Coronavirus: City fills skatepark with 37 tons of sand to deter skaters

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. — Skateboarders who couldn’t resist kickflipping during stay at home orders and calls for social distancing will be forced to carve elsewhere after city officials dumped 37 tons of sand on the San Clemente skatepark.

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Officials filled the bowls and covered the concrete at Ralph’s Skate Court with nearly four inches of sand after skaters ignored “no trespassing” signs, the Orange County Register reported.

San Clemente closed its parks and recreation facilities April 1 as part of the state’s stay at home order, KCBS reported. Since that time, officials have heard complaints about skaters and their parents at the facility.

“We continued to hear frustrated comments from different groups,” Samantha Wylie, city recreation manager, told the Register.

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Officials said the move to fill the skatepark with sand to discourage skaters has been done in other cities, KCBS reported. Some have used hay or mulch, the San Clemente Times reported.

Other cities have installed fences, but the locks were cut or the fences were hopped. Some cities have even hired security guards to patrol, the Register reported.

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But those measures all come with costs.

San Clemente officials said there was no cost for maintenance crews to install the sand, and they don’t expect any cost to remove it.

“We definitely did our due diligence,” Wylie told the Register.

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A nonprofit group that raises money to support the skatepark told KCBS it was not told first about the decision to fill the park with sand.

“We have a pretty far reach with the skate community, we would have been happy to spread the message,” Stephanie Aguilar, president of the San Clemente Skatepark Coalition, told the Register. “But there was no warning or anything. A lot of people have poured their hearts into making a better community for skateboarding. To see a picture of the skate park in this state, I think it really struck a chord with a lot of people.”

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Supporters questioned the move, as tennis courts and other facilities are being used, and not filled with sand.

“Social distancing hasn’t been followed in a lot of different areas, whether it’s on our trails, tennis courts, the basketball courts, the walking paths; we didn’t see the city dump sand on the walking trail,” Aguilar told the Times. “We didn’t see them dump sand onto any other sport area that’s being used. It just plays into, kind of feeds into that double standard the skate community has been treated with.”