For years, a hidden skate park in Moss Beach has remained a loose secret among fans, but a surge of new attention is leading some to fear that the site could soon be closed and demolished.
For many on the Midcoast, the skate park presents a true dilemma in an area they say is starved of active recreational spaces. On Tuesday, the Friends of Moss Beach Park met to discuss what could be done with the skate park. On April 23, the Midcoast Community Council will also take up the issue.
But no matter the outcome of those meetings, the future of the skate park is largely out of the hands of the local community.
The skate park is located on what fans call the Moss Beach Ruins, an 11-acre parcel owned by the California School Employees Association. The San Jose-based union has largely turned a blind eye to the property, and locals have come to treat the land as a de facto park over the years.
Over the weekend, residents bordering the park say crews sent by the union were surveying to install fences to block off the entire property. One neighbor said she was told the workers intended to bring bulldozers in to take out the skate park.
CSEA officials did not return calls from the Review to verify these details. In a past interview, a spokesman explained that the union had no specific plans for the property.
In recent weeks, the school employees union has faced increasing pressure from San Mateo County officials to maintain the property. County Supervisor Don Horsley explained on Monday that his office has been fielding complaints about the site for three years, but recently he said the concerns had escalated. Last month, his office sent photos of the skate park to CSEA officials to warn them about the liability risks on the property.
“When they saw the pictures, they must have said, ‘Holy mackerel!’” Horsley said. “When someone gets injured, someone must pay. And I’m sure that it’s going to be the property owner.”
Whether a skate-park injury could spiral into a personal-injury lawsuit is open to question. California state lawmakers agreed in the 1990s to designate skateboarding as a hazardous activity, a change that provided legal immunity for organizations that operate skate parks so long as they maintain the course and require skaters to wear safety gear.
Local skaters who frequent the Moss Beach Ruins — also known to skaters as “Spotti” — see their actions as benign. Off the record, some skaters credit the spot with helping to keep friends off drugs and give them something positive to do.
Opinions about the Moss Beach Ruins are mixed among local residents. While most acknowledge the skate park had some problems with litter, alcohol use and a lack of supervision, most in the area seem to want to keep it open. Multiple residents declined to speak on the record with the Review, saying they feared retaliation if they were perceived as coming out against the skate park.
Many on the Midcoast now hope for a longshot, that the county Parks Department or some nonprofit will come in and purchase the property. Horsley said that would be extremely unlikely, and he estimated the property could cost $11 million or more.