The next time you're swimming in your rich neighbor's pool, take a look at the edge - specifically the rounded, tiled lip that overhangs the edge.
That lip is called "coping," and it is a favorite structural feature for skateboarders. In an empty pool they like to see if they can get as high as the coping, and then do tricks off the coping - jump out of the pool and then back in, ride the coping between their wheels and such like.Now, after you've completed your chlorinated examination of aquatic architecture, go up to Sugar House's central business district and look at the monument at 2100 South and Highland Drive. The 1930 structure honors the sugar beet industry, from which Sugar House derived its name.
You will see that the surrounding edge of the monument has a rounded, overhanging lip - coping.
You can see what's coming next. The monument has attracted skateboarders like flies to honey, with consequent damage to the monument and surrounding area. Many of the ground tiles are loose or missing, and the area around the monument's coping is significantly marked and scraped from skateboard wheels and boards. Some of the concrete is cracked or broken.
What's more, Sugar House business owners complain that skateboarders race around on nearby sidewalks, endangering customers coming in and out, creating liability problems and reducing business.
Besides the monument, skateboarders (or just " 'boarders," in the lingo) are attracted to the area because of Stinky's, a skateboard and snowboard shop there.
Skateboard activity "has a real dampening effect on pedestrian traffic," said Salt Lake City Councilman Keith Christensen, who represents Sugar House. He says he has received three dozen phone calls in support of banning skateboarders and in-line roller skaters from streets and sidewalks in downtown Sugar House.
Skateboarders and in-line skaters, as well as bicyclists, are already banned from Salt Lake City's downtown.
Christensen took the first step toward a ban Tuesday, presenting a motion to the City Council that it direct the administration to draft an ordinance to that effect. His motion passed, but not before a lively discussion about discriminating against youth.
"I think it sends a wrong message to teenagers in our community," said Councilwoman Deeda Seed. "This kind of thing tells kids they are not wanted."
Seed and the council's other naysayers agreed to the motion only after it was amended to include Salt Lake's Youth City Council and other interested youth in a discussion of alternative places to skateboard. The Youth City Council had previously expressed concern that skateboarders have no place to go.
Creating a skateboard park, or area in a park, remains a possibility. Other cities such as Farmington, Ogden and Logan have done it or are in the process of doing it. It would provide a place, but Deputy Mayor Kay Christensen pointed out that a park would cost at least $40,000 and would have other disadvantages, such as reducing the amount of green space in the city with concrete.
The underlying theme in all this, of course, is the generally negative image of skateboarders - one of disaffected youth wearing baggy pants hanging around when they should be doing homework. Christensen took pains to note that he didn't have anything against skateboarders per se.
"This isn't a statement of any nature against kids who skateboard or rollerblade," he said. "It's a public safety issue."
But Stinky's owner Mitch West says it's just another instance of discrimination.
"(The ban) is not going to help," he said. "This is a waste of time. The problem is not going away - it's just going to get bigger."