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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 4, 2002

Skaters told to police parks

By Suzanne Roig
Advertiser East Honolulu Writer

HAWAI'I KAI — The city's $500,000 Kamiloiki Skateboard Park opened less than a month ago, but already graffiti and other problems are prompting officials to consider installing security cameras.

Six skateparks have opened since the city embarked on a multimillion-dollar building program two years ago, and they have been beset with problems that also include after-hour visitors, trash and rowdy users.

Security cameras are the latest in a series of escalating security measures to be considered to keep order at the facilities.

In Kailua, skaters organized a citizens patrol to enforce the 7 p.m. closing time at the park adjacent to Keolu Elementary School. They are supplemented by a security guard. At Mililani the skateboard facility has bright security lights inside to keep taggers from leaving their mark.

In Hawai'i Kai, skaters looked with disgust this week at black painted marks on the inside of the facility. After the graffiti was discovered Monday morning, a couple of skaters tried to remove the graffiti with paint thinner, but all they could do was make it fainter.

"We don't want the facility tagged," said skateboarder Shaun Peck, 17. "If it's painted, the paint makes the surface slippery."

Ben Lee, city managing director, said peer pressure and self-policing will help somewhat to reduce the tagging, and so would security cameras. Officials met Wednesday with the skateboard task force to talk about the problem in Hawai'i Kai and discuss solutions.

The Association of Skateboarders in Hawai'i, which has been taking the lead in the effort to curb problems in Kailua, said graffiti isn't just an eyesore, but it causes rapid deterioration of the skateboarding surface from the power washing needed to remove it.

In Marin County, Calif., the skateboard parks have no graffiti, said Chuck Mitsui, association founder. That's because the city has a zero tolerance policy at its sites: if graffiti appears, the facility gets closed for a week and no one can skateboard, Mitsui said.

"It works by telling the kids that they have to self-police. They have to tell the taggers that they should go away or else they won't get to skate," Mitsui said. "The skateboarders need to take responsibility for what they've been given. They need to take responsibility for something the city has given them for their sport."

Kailua's citizen patrol has worked well, Mitsui said.

"It's unfortunate that a few individuals choose to spoil the visual appearance of a brand new skateboard facility," Lee said. "The root of the problem is a value system ... Parents should teach their children to care for public facilities as if they were their own."

Skateboarder Chris Menendez said the graffiti is being left by nonskateboarders after hours.

"It's being done by some dummies — a bunch of punk kids, " said Menendez, who skates daily.

"Why would we want to ruin this place?" said Shelby Campbell. "It took us long enough to get it here. Obviously the kids who are doing it don't care about the skateboard park. You can tell."

Reach Suzanne Roig at 395-8831 or sroig@honoluluadvertiser.com.