A crew of volunteers tore down an unauthorized skate ramp at the Burnham Strip in El Granada over the weekend, replacing the weathered structure with a larger half-pipe built to last for years.
Circling their vehicles around a section on the edge of the parking lot, about a dozen workers started on Friday, quickly assembled pieces of the wooden ramp designed weeks earlier in Montara. By the end of the weekend, the ramp was nearly ready for action, and local skaters were lining up to test their mettle.
The project was managed by El Granada resident Tim West, a local surfing star who was also an avid skater in his younger years. West explained on Monday the new ramp was his idea. He wants to provide more recreational activities for an area sometimes starved of options for teens.
“The kids, they need a place to spend their summer to use their time in a positive manner,” he said. “This little ramp gives them something to do at a place where mom and dad know where they are.”
Right on cue, a trio of juveniles walked up to ask how the skate park was coming.
"All my friends, they can't wait for this to get done," said Marius Kalda, a 13-year-old with a skateboard in hand. "There's going to be a lot of people coming to try it out."
In 2011, the same goals led West to gather about $300 in donations in order to build a smaller ramp at the parking lot across the highway from Surfer’s Beach. That ramp was celebrated by local skaters, but it also drew concerns from a nearby homeowner and the Granada Sanitary District, the owner of the land. The ramp was ultimately relocated to the southwest corner of the lot, where it remained even as it began falling apart.
West started collecting donations to replace the ramp earlier this year. The new wooden ramp cost nearly $5,000, a total almost entirely donated by local supporters, he said.
Montara carpenter Adam Upvall designed the ramp at his home. He made new half-pipe to be durable with new materials and weather-proofed to resist the elements. This afternoon, workers added the finishing touches, securing pieces of the riding surface.
Like the first ramp, the second half-pipe was also built without explicit permission from the property owner, West said. The ramp has already raised a few eyebrows. One nearby homeowner reportedly complained to the weekend building crew that the half-pipe’s guardrails were blocking her ocean view.
On Monday afternoon, West took a handsaw and began cutting away to remove the guardrails. It was the simplest solution to appease the homeowner, he said.
West said the ramp overall was getting tremendous support from a wide range of community members. As the workers finished up the skate ramp, every few minutes a car driving by honked to show support. His hope was to keep the ramp in that spot, but he acknowledged the ramp may ultimately require a more permanent home.
“It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles; it’s a community project,” he said. “If we have to move it, we’ll move it.”