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Home | Episode #68
Skating is for Everybody
May 2018 | Student Producers:

Meagan Wilkinson, Nia Brooks, and Grace McDonald (An Impact Linda Vista Initiative Story)
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Skating is for Everybody
Linda Vista Skate Park is the pride of council member Scott Sherman and Linda Vista residents. (10 minutes)

Linda Vista Skater: Skating is for everybody. Cops can come skate too. Skateboarding is for everybody.

Meagan: All right, so be honest, what comes to mind or at least came to mind when you first thought about Linda Vista? 

Nia: Definitely the University of San Diego. 

Meagan: That's fair, but our council member, council member Sherman is actually hoping that one of the first things that comes to mind for you now is the skate park.

Scott Sherman: After nearly five years in the making the gates open to San Diego's new skate park Tuesday. It opened a few months back, it took about almost three and a half years from start to finish. It went quicker than normal because the money was actually tied to a timetable for the grant. So it got done pretty pretty in government time. My name is Scott Sherman, a council member, district seven San Diego.

Nia: Meagan, you actually went down to city hall, met with Sherman in person and heard what he had to say. So what did he tell you?

Meagan: Yeah, I met with Sherman and one of his staffers. They're both super kind and welcoming and gave me the full rundown on the very recent history of the skate park. And it's actually been his pet project over his last five years on city council.

Scott Sherman: I've been in San Diego for 55 years. And before I became a council member representing parts of Linda Vista, you very rarely went through Linda Vista. Cause other than the campus, there was no attractions to bring you to Linda Vista. Other than if you live there, that's where you went. But other than that, there wasn't much. And now Linda Vista is starting to change. And I think it's going to bring economic opportunity to a whole lot of people who may not have had the opportunity to experience it if these things weren't starting to happen. I found a grant for parks, didn't say skate parks, but we called and asked. They said, it doesn't say it doesn't cover skate parks. So we got with Tony Hawk foundation, we got about 45,000 in seed money to help leverage for the grant. It was a 3 million grant. We applied for the whole thing, figuring we'd get a little portion of it. And we did such a good job on the application and the leveraging, we got the entire grant.

Meagan: When you hear a name like Tony Hawk, obviously you're going to expect big things because he's a local legend. He's from San Diego. So when you know that his foundation is the one spearheading this project, obviously you're thinking that this is going to be a pretty sick skate park coming out of it. And luckily, the park did not disappoint.

Scott Sherman: And now we're looking at, I think it's the second largest municipal skate park in the country. And Andy Mack from skateboarder magazine had skated it a little bit ago and said, in his opinion, it's the best skate park in the country at this point in time. And it's right there in Linda Vista. We've seen people from, we had a group from New Zealand who came to ride the park. We had people from all up and down the state, from the East coast, all coming to check out the skate park and they leave their money in Linda Vista when they do it. So it's a win win for everybody.

Meagan: There's no doubt. This park is a huge success for council member Sherman. It's provided him with something,

Scott Sherman: Something tangible in government. You can actually put your hands on and say, see, that actually was created. And that's something good that we did. Most of the things we do now, you know, in government, it's all hard to put your hands on it. You know, it's all policy and those types of things. This is actually bricks and mortars that future generations are going to be able to enjoy. So that's by far my most proud of accomplishment.

Meagan: This has been a big win for Sherman's career, of course, but he also hopes it brings broader success to Linda Vista as well.

Scott Sherman: I'm a believer of the rising tide rises all ships. And if you get economic prosperity to a neighborhood, and the people who live there now can still afford to live there because the overall economic climate goes up. I mean, we're even seeing that with the construction of the skate park that was built at the rec center, you know, three blocks away, we've already seen a skate shop, open up. You go on Facebook and all these things, and you see people talking all the time. Where's the best place to get tacos  in Linda Vista? We're here to visit the skate park. And then all of that just helps rise everybody up. And if you incorporate that with more housing opportunities, pricing starts coming down, and then people can actually afford to stay where they are and prosper along with the rest of the neighborhood.

Meagan: So natural questions might arise about what does this mean for the community of Linda Vista? Maybe they don't want a big, noisy skate park in the middle of town. Maybe they don't want skaters converging into the community. But as it turns out, the skate park was an idea that came from the people. They wanted it and Sherman made it happen.

Scott Sherman: Some people set up a meeting, they brought in a petition with 1800 signatures on it. And it was kids and adults who were looking to get a skate park. And at the same time I had business owners complaining about all the kids skating out in front of their business and out in front of the library, those kinds of things. So we started looking into trying to figure out how to build it.

Meagan: Sherman had so many amazing things to say about the skate park that obviously we had to see it for ourselves. Unfortunately, life got in the way for me and I couldn't be there, but Nia, you actually got to go and see for yourself without any of the hype that Sherman gave me.

Nia: Yeah, I did go. And it was awesome.

Meagan: So what was it like?

Nia: It's beautiful. It's all concrete with some red paint trimming the bowls, ramps, and railings. And it's huge. Okay. It's about 35,000 square feet. There's palm trees. And I didn't see much graffiti, which is kind of like a staple at a lot of skate parks. In fact, there wasn't a lot of litter either. I think the most I saw was a melted Popsicle, that a skater slipped on.

Meagan: And what were the people like? Who was there?

Nia: There's people from all walks of life. There's not a ton of female skaters, but it's really diverse in age and just from the types of people there as well. A lot of kids, a lot of parents, a ton of teens, and then some guys in their early twenties and beyond. There were some kids there that looked way too small to be skating those deep bowls and high ramps, but they were skating around with the best of them.

Linda Park Skater: I have two here. We just started coming. They're little, five and seven. Yeah, there is, it's all walks of life here. It's amazing.

Maury: They call me Maury. It's just like one of those places where you can just be yourself. You can like bring out so much style. Like there's so much diversity and it's own little kind of world in here.

Linda Park Skater: I personally used to skate in the past. I just watch my homies skate. Like my homie Janky Christian.

Megan: Hold up. Did he say Janky Christian?

Nia: Yeah. We met some guys who actually only agreed to be interviewed if we gave them our phone numbers.

Meagan: Your phone numbers? Hold on a minute. Did you actually do that? And if so, when's the wedding?

Nia: No wedding. But of course we did. We wanted to talk to as many people as we could.

Megan: And what did they have to say?

Nia: Well, they said they loved the skate park. It's great for hanging out with friends, for bettering the community. And they gave them a place to practice what they love.

Meagan: So they were all really positive about it.

Nia: Oh yeah. One of the guys, Raul, kept talking about how he wishes it was there when he was a kid.

Raul: And I feel, if I was younger, cause I'm 22. If I was younger, like back in the day when I was skating in my prime, I'd appreciate it. I appreciate the blessing of the scenery, you know what I mean. And I thank God for this blessing. Linda Vista deserves this and you know what, Linda Vista is a great community.

Meagan: I know Sherman mentioned in his interview that he hoped that because of the attention to the skate park, that people would come to town and also use other businesses in town. And so people on the Facebook page had said, you know, I'm going to the skate park, where's the best place to get a taco. And so I was wondering if when you were there, did any of the skateboarders mention that they were using other businesses in town?

Nia: Oh yeah. They totally were. In fact, a local skateboard shop opened up because of the skate park and they talked about it when I was interviewing them.

Raul: There's a local business called Slappy's Garage. It's actually a skate shop right up the street from the Linda Vista skate park. It's a great shop. Great prices. Any kid, I mean, if you want to skate, go there. It's a good prices. I respect Slappy's for giving back to the community and having a shop here. You know, giving kids that, you know what, like we actually have a skate shop here now. You know what I mean? You know, instead of buying drugs and stuff, go buy a skateboard. You know, that's how I feel about this. You know what I mean?

Meagan: I wouldn't go so far as to say that gentrification isn't a problem for Linda Vista. The reality is that it's a problem for a lot of communities here in San Diego. But maybe Sherman and the people who petitioned for the skate park are onto something here.

Nia: Instead of allowing outside developers to come in and change their community, the residents of Linda Vista took it upon themselves. For me, their actions represent the fight against gentrification, which is something local activist, Gloria Cooper, talked about at the fair housing conference

Gloria Cooper: And how people could encourage them to state that you've got a jewel, a diamond in the rough that you've got to learn how to be able to make that community be what you want it to be and what you know it can be. And that's my advice to you is to help your community to see that nothing happens unless you make the change.

Nia: So now, instead of thinking about USD, when people talk about Linda Vista, maybe they'll think about the skate park. Maybe they'll think about Slappy's and Janky Christian, of course, future fame skater from Linda Vista, Future Mr. Nia Brooks.

[Laughing]