Skateboarding is not a crime, but one Jacksonville City Councilman is trying to change that fact.

Bill Gulliford, whose district includes the Beaches and a portion of the Intracoastal West, has proposed a city ordinance that would prohibit skateboarding on public spaces in the downtown area. However, the ordinance proposal is currently written so that it would ban public skating across the entire city. He said the ban is meant for only downtown and needs to be “cleaned up.”

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Bill Gulliford

Gulliford said there have been complaints from people in the area who feel at risk from some skaters and believes skateboarders cause damage to City Hall and churches. Police are unable to prohibit skateboarding in these areas due to a lack of legislation.

Current city ordinances make skateboarding illegal on private property if the business owner displays a “No Skateboarding” sign. Violators can receive a $25 fine on their first offense and a $50 fine for every offense thereafter. Currently, Jacksonville has no similar ordinance for public property.

Creating a public spaces ban and imposing fines “would make people think before doing stupid things,” Gulliford said. When asked, Gulliford couldn’t recall what the fines would be for public skating, but he’s less interested in fining people and more focused on wanting “good conduct down there.”

“The fact that people tend to associate skateboarding with misconduct is just a stigma,” said Jay Arceo, a local skateboarder of about 14 years. “[Skaters are] just like everyone else – we work, we pay the same taxes, we go to the same places – we just choose skating as our hobby or transportation and we enjoy it.

Arceo said he’s been asked by police officers to not skate in some areas due to public safety, which he understands. However, he believes there is a sense of hypocrisy when it comes to skateboarding. He discussed instances in which skaters were asked to walk rather than ride, only to have people on bicycles ride-by undisturbed by authorities.

Certainly skating can cause physical damage to some structures – and manage to occasionally piss people off – but is a city ordinance necessary? Arceo believes “downtown has plenty more issues than people skating.”

Before there is a vote on the ordinance, Gulliford said there would be a public hearing on matter – likely at the next City Council meeting.

Got something to say about this? The public is welcome to attend and comment on the proposal during the council’s next general meeting, set for June 14, at 5 p.m.