Last week, the Granada Community Services District board of directors agreed to consider saving one of the most well-used recreational sites on the Midcoast. Perhaps it can also be seen as a long-overdue and welcomed statement about future uses for the Burnham Strip.
At issue is the skater-built “Jetty Ramp” across from Surfer’s Beach. It appeared years ago in classic skate-culture fashion: without fanfare or the official blessing of any of the half-dozen government agencies that would otherwise have to sign off on construction at the site. Since then, the half-pipe has attracted a nearly continuous stream of skaters who no doubt appreciate the scenic location and another place to shred.
All was well until April, when Midcoast Community Council member Len Erickson got wind that Caltrans planned to remove the ramp, which is located on state transportation agency easement. When they found out, skaters and their friends rallied, even producing a website — savethejettyramp.com — with updates and pleas for the community to work together to get it moved onto GCSD-controlled property. Members of the skater group say they will volunteer to deconstruct the ramp and move it inland a bit, and they would like to persuade the GCSD to construct or otherwise allow a “full-fledged skatepark on the Burnham Strip.”
However you might feel about that idea, it’s well past time to take advantage of the recreational opportunities provided by one of the Coastside’s most visible, accessible and debated properties. The question has been bandied around almost since architect Daniel Burnham first designed El Granada more than 100 years ago.
In 2006, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors changed the Local Coastal Program to signal that the strip would be protected from piecemeal development by individual landowners. Since then, there has been a lot of talk about recreational uses. A GCSD committee, working with community input, even came up with a list of top recreational choices for the strip. Now the community services district says planning something great at the Burnham Strip is a top priority.
Great. Let’s stop talking and start doing. The future of recreation on the Burnham Strip is important to all Coastsiders. It requires a meaningful, communitywide planning process that ends in action in a matter of months not decades. Skaters deserve a full hearing. They clearly have an interest in the spot, have demonstrated admirable initiative and have proven good stewards of the equipment they provided.
In the meantime, the skate ramp returns to the GCSD board on June 20. The board wisely wanted its attorney to consider liability and so forth. Assuming no great concerns, the GCSD should accept the skaters’ volunteer help, kick in a little money for reconstruction and move the Jetty Ramp onto its locally controlled public property. Doing so would give the skateboarding community an opportunity to prove it deserves consideration for a more permanent structure. And it would give the rest of us faith that the board is finally moving toward appropriate recreational uses for the land.