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1977 San Diego guide to best skateboarding

Skateparks, Black Mountain Rd., Toenails, Charcoal Bowl, Community Concourse, Gator Bowl

Skateboarding is establishing itself as not only a ubiquitous California pastime, but also as a great outlet for entrepreneurs who have their eyes on the promotion of skating. At last count there were three major skateboarding magazines on the rack at the 7-Eleven store in Ocean Beach. Three designated skateparks are now flourishing in San Diego and a fourth has just opened. And organized competitions often draw huge crowds and purses of up to $25,000. The fact that you yourself haven’t earned a nickel skateboarding and have contented yourself to riding up and down your driveway should by no means discourage you. For below is a guide to skateboarding in San Diego which may set you on your way to fame and fortune, or possibly just on your way to skinning your knee.

The extraordinary blossoming of skateboarding occurred in 1975 when the number of boards roaming the streets almost doubled. With the introduction of polyurethane wheels, skateboarding suddenly didn't require breaking a bone. Those polyurethane wheels made skateboarding much safer, and they radically increased maneuverability.

With the population boom of skateboards, it is not surprising that laws appeared limiting where an individual could skate. Once so light and carefree, suddenly skateboarding became an outlaw sport. As pressure was put on by the police and disturbed neighbors to isolate skateboarders from the community, a couple of enterprising young men got the notion of developing a controlled skateboarding environment. John O’Malley and Jack Graham thus became the fathers of the skateparks and born unto them was Carlsbad Park, the first park designed specifically for skateboarding.

California, of course, is the birthplace of skateboarding. The majority of manufacturers are located in Southern California. The superstars are almost all from Southern California, and the promoters live here also. We Californians seem to have this peculiar ability to breed fads which eventually infest the country, and occasionally one of those fads finds a permanent home in our culture. As Don Branker, top promoter of skateboarding in the U.S., said, “Rock-and-roll is dead. The money is in skateboarding.” Branker should certainly know. Former promo man for rock-and-roll’s hottest bands, he recently decided to switch his energies to skateboarding. Still working out of the Beverly Hills office of Wolf and Rissmiller, Branker has been instrumental in bringing big money to the industry. There should be no question at this point that skateboarding is big business.

The equipment for skateboarding is really quite simple, but a good board with wheels and all the trimmings can cost anywhere from $35 to $100. Gasp all you like at the high price for a silly little contraption, but prices are going up everyday. Although it is often cheaper and more convenient to pick up a skateboard at a drug store or department store, the buyer must beware. The boards they sell are often less than safe and, to date, no controls have been put on skateboard manufacturers by the government. A poorly made board when you’re traveling down a hill at a rapid speed is not a skater’s best ally. So, if you are attached to your appendages in any way, invest in a safe board.

If you are a parent who spends sleepless nights fretting about the dangers of skateboarding, consider the study put out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Its analysis of sport equipment found skateboards in a reassuring 25th place, safer even than bicycles.

Do not be misled, however, thinking skateboarding is without risk. Tennis is certainly a safer sport, and so, if you keep out of violent arguments, is croquet. But if you are of sound mind and body, and you know what you are getting yourself into, let’s proceed to the concrete slopes . . .

  • Skateboard Heaven
  • 1020 Sweetwater Road, Spring Valley
  • Open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

This park is by far the most advanced and innovative in town. In all, it has seven superb runs including a small pipe and an empty swimming pool, which seems to thrill visitors to no end. The price of admission is two dollars for two hours, plus 75c for all the safety equipment you need: gloves, knee pads, and helmet (required at all parks). You must also sign a liability form which puts your health entirely in your own hands. The prices here are comparatively cheap, and local skaters “in the know” affirm that this park is one of the finest in California.

Sponsored
Sponsored
  • El Cajon Skatepark
  • 1209 E. Main Street, El Cajon
  • Open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

If you are looking for a less advanced park, you might try El Cajon. It now has three moderate runs, but plans are afoot to expand the park with an empty swimming pool and a half pipe. The atmosphere resembles a miniature golf course in that even the decorative bushes appear to be made of plastic. It costs three dollars for a year’s membership, plus $2.25 for two hours of skating. Add to that 75c for equipment. Most of the membership fee goes toward insurance, so they say, and the remainder goes into park improvement. Insurance means a $100 deductible which covers any injury up to $2,500 although you are still required to fill out a liability form releasing the park from responsibility. It seems this is not a unique policy, but one that is becoming standard all over the country.

  • Moving On
  • 4333 Home Avenue, East San Diego
  • Open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The chief problem with this park is that there is not enough vertical, making the slopes hardly a challenge to proficient skaters. The price policy is the same as El Cajon’s in that membership is required whether you want to skate one time or a hundred times. The manager who answered the telephone told me, when I asked what the three-dollar membership was used for, that it was just a fee for filling out a liability form and had nothing to do with insurance.

  • Carlsbad Park
  • Palomar Airport Road, Carlsbad
  • Open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The most impressive thing about this park is its natural setting, nestled into Carlsbad’s agricultural valley. If the atmosphere is rustic, so are the facilities, however. You must excuse the Carlsbad Park for being so primitive, for, if you recall, it was the first.; In the spirit of true innovators, Carlsbad’s designers are not by any means finished. As other parks attempted to emulate and out-design Carlsbad, the inventors of it all were quietly designing an expansion project. Phase Two is expected to open this month, and in another two years (and 1.5 million dollars) the ultimate development will be completed. The park will include beginners’ areas with special instruction runs, advanced areas, competition runs, a first-aid station, a full pro shop, and even a place to eat. The prices at Carlsbad are $2.75 for admission, plus a dollar for equipment. No membership is required and no liability form must be signed. As incredible as this may sound, the owners claim that the park was designed with such precision that the insurance company involved has complete confidence in the facilities.

Black Mountain Road

Not far away from Carlsbad Park, in the scenic hills of La Costa, you will find perhaps the best downhill skateboarding in California, at the top of Black Mountain Road. Each Sunday, if enough people turn up, races are held and the competition is open to any competent skater. The mood is relaxed. A six-pack, a skateboard, and a little competitive energy are all you need to blend into the proceedings.

Toenails

The whole world knows about the Del Mar race track, but little has been mentioned about nearby Toenails. It is located just east of Interstate 5 on Carmel Valley Road. A drainage ditch with good vertical angles. Toenails offers excellent skating. But what can easily spoil a lovely day is a visit from the police, who occasionally appear out of nowhere and blow their whistles.

Charcoal Bowl

In La Jolla, across the street from the Salk Institute, buried in the ground, and surrounded by barbed wire is a mysterious-looking building which, if you didn’t know better, you might consider unapproachable. Surely the first skateboarder who decided to peek inside was a courageous soul. What he found was a huge circular reservoir with a lot of charcoal silt at its base, which aptly gives this site the name Charcoal Bowl. The skating is great, but look out for the posts that stick up out of the ground all around the bowl. The best way to approach this spot is to park your car on Torrey Pines road near the northern entrance of the Salk Institute. Turn right down the forbidding dirt road until you see the sunken building. From there on, it’s between you and whoever put up the barbed wire.

Downtown

Paved perfection can be found for the price of a parking validation at the Community Concourse. Not only is there good skating, but there’s also a fully automatic elevator which allows you to conserve energy for the 12-story circular run which gets you going so fast that only the most proficient skaters should attempt it. A word of warning: skateboarding at the Concourse was specifically outlawed by the City Council, indicating, of course, the fine quality of this spot. Downtown is also full of garages that are just waiting to be discovered. The Union Bank comes with a rather nice garage, except for the security guards who have no affection for skateboarders. It’s also very steep and should be approached with caution. The International Motel located at 8th and Beech offers another garage with circular ramp. The list goes on. We are at no loss for undiscovered garages in San Diego. Good in the coldest of winter and the sweltering summer, garages are advisable only for advanced skaters, are often lit at night, and sad to say, are certainly illegal.

Gator Bowl

Located inside the San Diego Zoo is a great little spot called the Gator Bowl. Tucked away between the hippos and the aviary, this is a water reclamation ditch which requires the scaling of two fences in order to reach. And as if there aren’t enough obstacles, you have to sneak your skateboard in. Perhaps you could rent a stroller, replace the baby with the skateboard, and walk right in. One of the prime requisites of skateboarding, after all, is simple nerve.

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Skateboarding is establishing itself as not only a ubiquitous California pastime, but also as a great outlet for entrepreneurs who have their eyes on the promotion of skating. At last count there were three major skateboarding magazines on the rack at the 7-Eleven store in Ocean Beach. Three designated skateparks are now flourishing in San Diego and a fourth has just opened. And organized competitions often draw huge crowds and purses of up to $25,000. The fact that you yourself haven’t earned a nickel skateboarding and have contented yourself to riding up and down your driveway should by no means discourage you. For below is a guide to skateboarding in San Diego which may set you on your way to fame and fortune, or possibly just on your way to skinning your knee.

The extraordinary blossoming of skateboarding occurred in 1975 when the number of boards roaming the streets almost doubled. With the introduction of polyurethane wheels, skateboarding suddenly didn't require breaking a bone. Those polyurethane wheels made skateboarding much safer, and they radically increased maneuverability.

With the population boom of skateboards, it is not surprising that laws appeared limiting where an individual could skate. Once so light and carefree, suddenly skateboarding became an outlaw sport. As pressure was put on by the police and disturbed neighbors to isolate skateboarders from the community, a couple of enterprising young men got the notion of developing a controlled skateboarding environment. John O’Malley and Jack Graham thus became the fathers of the skateparks and born unto them was Carlsbad Park, the first park designed specifically for skateboarding.

California, of course, is the birthplace of skateboarding. The majority of manufacturers are located in Southern California. The superstars are almost all from Southern California, and the promoters live here also. We Californians seem to have this peculiar ability to breed fads which eventually infest the country, and occasionally one of those fads finds a permanent home in our culture. As Don Branker, top promoter of skateboarding in the U.S., said, “Rock-and-roll is dead. The money is in skateboarding.” Branker should certainly know. Former promo man for rock-and-roll’s hottest bands, he recently decided to switch his energies to skateboarding. Still working out of the Beverly Hills office of Wolf and Rissmiller, Branker has been instrumental in bringing big money to the industry. There should be no question at this point that skateboarding is big business.

The equipment for skateboarding is really quite simple, but a good board with wheels and all the trimmings can cost anywhere from $35 to $100. Gasp all you like at the high price for a silly little contraption, but prices are going up everyday. Although it is often cheaper and more convenient to pick up a skateboard at a drug store or department store, the buyer must beware. The boards they sell are often less than safe and, to date, no controls have been put on skateboard manufacturers by the government. A poorly made board when you’re traveling down a hill at a rapid speed is not a skater’s best ally. So, if you are attached to your appendages in any way, invest in a safe board.

If you are a parent who spends sleepless nights fretting about the dangers of skateboarding, consider the study put out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Its analysis of sport equipment found skateboards in a reassuring 25th place, safer even than bicycles.

Do not be misled, however, thinking skateboarding is without risk. Tennis is certainly a safer sport, and so, if you keep out of violent arguments, is croquet. But if you are of sound mind and body, and you know what you are getting yourself into, let’s proceed to the concrete slopes . . .

  • Skateboard Heaven
  • 1020 Sweetwater Road, Spring Valley
  • Open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

This park is by far the most advanced and innovative in town. In all, it has seven superb runs including a small pipe and an empty swimming pool, which seems to thrill visitors to no end. The price of admission is two dollars for two hours, plus 75c for all the safety equipment you need: gloves, knee pads, and helmet (required at all parks). You must also sign a liability form which puts your health entirely in your own hands. The prices here are comparatively cheap, and local skaters “in the know” affirm that this park is one of the finest in California.

Sponsored
Sponsored
  • El Cajon Skatepark
  • 1209 E. Main Street, El Cajon
  • Open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

If you are looking for a less advanced park, you might try El Cajon. It now has three moderate runs, but plans are afoot to expand the park with an empty swimming pool and a half pipe. The atmosphere resembles a miniature golf course in that even the decorative bushes appear to be made of plastic. It costs three dollars for a year’s membership, plus $2.25 for two hours of skating. Add to that 75c for equipment. Most of the membership fee goes toward insurance, so they say, and the remainder goes into park improvement. Insurance means a $100 deductible which covers any injury up to $2,500 although you are still required to fill out a liability form releasing the park from responsibility. It seems this is not a unique policy, but one that is becoming standard all over the country.

  • Moving On
  • 4333 Home Avenue, East San Diego
  • Open seven days a week, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The chief problem with this park is that there is not enough vertical, making the slopes hardly a challenge to proficient skaters. The price policy is the same as El Cajon’s in that membership is required whether you want to skate one time or a hundred times. The manager who answered the telephone told me, when I asked what the three-dollar membership was used for, that it was just a fee for filling out a liability form and had nothing to do with insurance.

  • Carlsbad Park
  • Palomar Airport Road, Carlsbad
  • Open seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m.

The most impressive thing about this park is its natural setting, nestled into Carlsbad’s agricultural valley. If the atmosphere is rustic, so are the facilities, however. You must excuse the Carlsbad Park for being so primitive, for, if you recall, it was the first.; In the spirit of true innovators, Carlsbad’s designers are not by any means finished. As other parks attempted to emulate and out-design Carlsbad, the inventors of it all were quietly designing an expansion project. Phase Two is expected to open this month, and in another two years (and 1.5 million dollars) the ultimate development will be completed. The park will include beginners’ areas with special instruction runs, advanced areas, competition runs, a first-aid station, a full pro shop, and even a place to eat. The prices at Carlsbad are $2.75 for admission, plus a dollar for equipment. No membership is required and no liability form must be signed. As incredible as this may sound, the owners claim that the park was designed with such precision that the insurance company involved has complete confidence in the facilities.

Black Mountain Road

Not far away from Carlsbad Park, in the scenic hills of La Costa, you will find perhaps the best downhill skateboarding in California, at the top of Black Mountain Road. Each Sunday, if enough people turn up, races are held and the competition is open to any competent skater. The mood is relaxed. A six-pack, a skateboard, and a little competitive energy are all you need to blend into the proceedings.

Toenails

The whole world knows about the Del Mar race track, but little has been mentioned about nearby Toenails. It is located just east of Interstate 5 on Carmel Valley Road. A drainage ditch with good vertical angles. Toenails offers excellent skating. But what can easily spoil a lovely day is a visit from the police, who occasionally appear out of nowhere and blow their whistles.

Charcoal Bowl

In La Jolla, across the street from the Salk Institute, buried in the ground, and surrounded by barbed wire is a mysterious-looking building which, if you didn’t know better, you might consider unapproachable. Surely the first skateboarder who decided to peek inside was a courageous soul. What he found was a huge circular reservoir with a lot of charcoal silt at its base, which aptly gives this site the name Charcoal Bowl. The skating is great, but look out for the posts that stick up out of the ground all around the bowl. The best way to approach this spot is to park your car on Torrey Pines road near the northern entrance of the Salk Institute. Turn right down the forbidding dirt road until you see the sunken building. From there on, it’s between you and whoever put up the barbed wire.

Downtown

Paved perfection can be found for the price of a parking validation at the Community Concourse. Not only is there good skating, but there’s also a fully automatic elevator which allows you to conserve energy for the 12-story circular run which gets you going so fast that only the most proficient skaters should attempt it. A word of warning: skateboarding at the Concourse was specifically outlawed by the City Council, indicating, of course, the fine quality of this spot. Downtown is also full of garages that are just waiting to be discovered. The Union Bank comes with a rather nice garage, except for the security guards who have no affection for skateboarders. It’s also very steep and should be approached with caution. The International Motel located at 8th and Beech offers another garage with circular ramp. The list goes on. We are at no loss for undiscovered garages in San Diego. Good in the coldest of winter and the sweltering summer, garages are advisable only for advanced skaters, are often lit at night, and sad to say, are certainly illegal.

Gator Bowl

Located inside the San Diego Zoo is a great little spot called the Gator Bowl. Tucked away between the hippos and the aviary, this is a water reclamation ditch which requires the scaling of two fences in order to reach. And as if there aren’t enough obstacles, you have to sneak your skateboard in. Perhaps you could rent a stroller, replace the baby with the skateboard, and walk right in. One of the prime requisites of skateboarding, after all, is simple nerve.

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