City Coun­cil Cre­ates Skate Ramp Or­di­nance

Riverbank News - - FRONT PAGE - BY VIR­GINIA STILL [email protected]­dale­

Dur­ing a re­cent reg­u­lar meet­ing, the River­bank City Coun­cil seemed to strug­gle se­lect­ing an op­tion on the first read­ing of the pro­posed or­di­nance reg­u­lat­ing per­sonal skate ramps in sin­gle fam­ily res­i­den­tial yards.

The skate ramp be­came an is­sue be­tween neigh­bors a while ago and the River­bank City Coun­cil had to step in and get in­volved af­ter the com­plaints were brought to their at­ten­tion.

Prior to the first read­ing on the agenda re­gard­ing the skate ramp or­di­nance the floor was opened up to the pub­lic for com­ments, which

Mayor Richard O’Brien be­gan by stat­ing “how neigh­bors over the last year have made com­plaints pit­ting neigh­bors against neigh­bors, peo­ple not get­ting along, cars parked in front of some­one else’s house, where they be­lieve it is their street and it isn’t; it is ac­tu­ally a pub­lic street.”

He also added, “We have peo­ple who don’t like the looks of a ve­hi­cle and com­plain about it, just peo­ple not be­ing civil to peo­ple. We are in neigh­bor­hoods and in neigh­bor­hoods we have neigh­bors, and I would ex­pect that we as neigh­bors work out our own prob­lems but the city keeps get­ting them. We are com­plaint driven.”

City Man­ager Sean Scully ex­plained that direc­tion given to staff af­ter a long dis­cus­sion a few months ago was to cre­ate a range of alternatives to ad­dress the is­sue so Plan­ning and Build­ing Man­ager Donna M. Ken­ney pre­sented coun­cil with some op­tions, from be­ing re­ally re­stric­tive to do­ing noth­ing, af­ter do­ing re­search and talk­ing with com­mu­nity mem­bers. The coun­cil seemed chal­lenged by this or­di­nance as they ex­pressed un­der­stand­ing on both sides of the is­sue.

On one hand there is a res­i­dent that builds skate ramps and uses one in his back yard, keep­ing kids out­doors and ac­tive and on the other hand their neigh­bor has a swim­ming pool and spends a lot of time in the back­yard and feels like their pri­vacy is in­vaded. So one neigh­bor com­plained about the noise and the pri­vacy is­sues with the skaters go­ing up the ramp and be­ing able to see over the fence and to the neigh­bor with the ramp, many felt he should be able to build a ramp and use it on his own prop­erty if he chooses.

“So in the fu­ture as peo­ple have dif­fi­cul­ties with their next door neigh­bors, per­son be­hind them or any­thing, let’s start work­ing this out in­di­vid­u­ally so it doesn’t have to be ad­dressed or an or­di­nance be placed to say stop be­ing un-neigh­borly,” stated O’Brien.

Af­ter a pre­sen­ta­tion and long dis­cus­sion, the coun­cil mem­bers, with a vote of 5 to 0, will be im­ple­ment­ing some new reg­u­la­tions on res­i­den­tial skate ramps. The op­tion ap­proved stated that a new sec­tion of build­ing re­quire­ments will be added for a sin­gle-fam­ily res­i­den­tial dis­trict R-1 Zone, to the River­bank Mu­nic­i­pal Code of Or­di­nances to reg­u­late per­sonal skate ramps with height and set­back re­stric­tions.

The first op­tion is a Con­di­tional Use Per­mit to reg­u­late per­sonal skate ramps on a case by case ba­sis. Ken­ney ex­plained that cur­rently a Con­di­tional Use Per­mit is about $2658.56 in fees and re­quires a trip to the plan­ning com­mis­sion; how­ever they could choose to cre­ate a mi­nor use per­mit for ap­prox­i­mately $1,000 to ap­ply for this type of struc­ture in their back­yard. An­other op­tion was to set height and ramp reg­u­la­tions and other op­tions were to ban skate ramps in neigh­bor­hoods or they could do noth­ing at all, choos­ing not to reg­u­late.

Dur­ing pub­lic com­ment a River­bank res­i­dent stated that he un­der­stood the dilemma re­gard­ing the de­ci­sion they had to make.

He stated that “it is ba­si­cally the right of a res­i­dent to uti­lize his prop­erty as he chooses ver­sus the right of a res­i­dent to his peace­ful en­joy­ment of his prop­erty. I don’t think we are grasp­ing the amount of dis­tur­bance this cre­ates.”

He ex­plained to the coun­cil that prop­erty value loss re­sult­ing from the struc­ture is a prob­lem as well as the noise and the pri­vacy is­sues.

He ended his com­ment with “we all have a right to the peace­ful en­joy­ment of our homes. I think it is a huge mis­take to al­low this and to al­low it without min­i­miz­ing the noise and pri­vacy is­sue I be­lieve is neg­li­gent and un­be­com­ing of your ser­vice to the pub­lic.”

With the rec­om­men­da­tion from the Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, hear­ing pub­lic com­ment and dis­cussing it at length they added some stip­u­la­tion to the or­di­nance that would in­clude noise re­duc­ing ma­te­ri­als, the time in which it can be built due to the cur­rent noise or­di­nance and the set­backs in­clud­ing the ramp at a height of four feet and 12 feet away from the side or rear of the prop­erty lines.

The sec­ond read­ing with the new ad­di­tions will be held at the next City Coun­cil meet­ing, Tues­day, Aug. 28 at 6 p.m. and the pub­lic is in­vited to at­tend.

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