Neighbors, skaters and skating neighbors have their say on Summit Slope skatedot

The first public skateboard feature of its kind in a Seattle park, the slab of smooth concrete that is the Summit Slope skatedot Thursday night was celebrated as an innovative win for skateboard culture in the city — and criticized as a loud, unwanted addition to the neighborhood just off E Olive Way. As preface to the session of public comment in front of the Seattle Parks Board, officials said they are trying to figure out what to do about the feature that some neighbors say is too noisy and attracts unwanted activities to the area where Summit meets John.

“It’s ‘shhh-tunk’ all night long,” one neighbor who spoke out against the skatedot said at Thursday night’s meeting.

For background on the issues around the skatedot, check out this recent CHS report.

No decisions will be made until the public comment deadline arrives on May 20th. In the meantime, you can add your thoughts to the debate by e-mailing Parks with your ideas on what should happen to the feature — including keeping it just the way it is. The Board reps, by the way, say they prefer a short note with original information vs. cut-and-paste form letter campaigns.

Options appear to be few — it’s basically remove the feature or live with it, one Parks representative told CHS off the record.

Here are some of the other things we saw and heard Thursday night:

  • “A nice idea in theory but awful in practice” — another neighbor who also works as a building manager. He also complained that the safety fence installed by Parks due to safety worries related to runaway skateboards is an “eyesore.”
  • A dot supporter said he believed this is really a debate over wider concerns about skateboarding. “The issue is that we are finally starting to make public spaces for skateboarding,” he said.
  • The youngest speaker was 14. Nice work Jasper. He was for the dot, by the way.
  • Jasper’s dad didn’t win many friends amongst the group of neighbors who oppose the dot when he suggested that maybe people who don’t like the park shouldn’t live in a noisy city. Jasper’s dad didn’t offer up whether he lives across the street from a skateboard feature.

Well, we can always make a bench out of it…

  • One resident expressed her regret that better materials hadn’t been used that would have made for a quieter feature.
  • “Had I known it would be there, I wouldn’t have purchased,” said another.
  • Matthew Lee Johnston, who we spoke to about the problems at the park last fall,  called himself the “father of the skatedot” and said that people who singled out the noise from the park were committing “discrimination” against skaters.
  • It was also particularly interesting to hear Ryan Barth, chairperson of the Seattle Skate Park Advisory Committee, who was instrumental in helping to drive the addition of the skatedot feature to the Summit Slope plans. His two-minute testimony slot refuted some statements from Parks reps earlier in the meeting about how early in the planning the skatedot was discussed. Barth testified that the skatedot was part of the plans — and the public conversation — from nearly the beginning.
  • “We all live in this noisy place that’s a big city. I think the skatedot should stay.”
  • “Those are the sounds of life.”
  • Real estate value came up a few times from the speakers against the skatedot. One woman said she is losing tenants. Another said she was worried she won’t be able to sell her property. 
  • Not all neighbors who spoke opposed the dot. One said he was a p-patcher, never skated but like to watch people using the park.
  • Another skater said the skatedot was important to him because it was a new type of place in the city where he can do his thing without and having to worry about getting hassled by police or getting a ticket.
  • More support: A woman that said she recently moved nearby the park from New York said she thought features like the skatedot could actually boost the appeal of the neighborhood over time.
  • Another resident against the skatedot acknowledged the conflict he felt. “I never thought I’d be this guy,” he said. He said it was cool seeing kids having a good time. He said it would also be cool to have some peace and quiet.

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23 thoughts on “Neighbors, skaters and skating neighbors have their say on Summit Slope skatedot

  1. Did anyone speak about the 10PM closing time for the park and how this would be enforced? IF skaters respected this rule, there would probably be alot less opposition by neighbors. But I doubt this will happen, because some skaters like to do their thing in the middle of the night,and I can’t imagine the SPD will give it any kind of priority.

  2. That’s exactly what I was thinking calhoun. If people don’t want to listen to skateboards all night long (I know I wouldn’t), why not limit the hours that skateboarding is allowed. They could even cut it off a little earlier than the park closes, i.e., skateboarding only from 11am-8pm or something. It’d be a better solution than “remove it or live with it” as the skateboarders keep their park and the neighbors get some quiet. Even if some people break the rules, it should still cut down the noise from those who will obey them. And if not, the “take it or live with it” option can always be revisited later.

  3. Do skateboards make an unnecessary amount of noise?

    My window faces a moderately hilly street that is (I’m sure) fun to skate down and I can always hear them coming from a block away — sometimes even when it’s closed. And this is on the sidewalk.

    I remember getting kicked out of various parks and parking lots for skateboarding as a kid… but I feel sorry for the neighbors who have to deal with metal trucks hitting concrete, usually followed by a wooden board flopping around on the ground and someone laughing, all while the sounds of hard plastic wheels rolling around on concrete never cease.

    Overall, seems to be a shitty decision by the city.

    I respect the skaters and sympathize with kids just trying to have fun who get kicked out of everywhere they go because it’s loud and tends to damage property, but I’d be annoyed if I lived there too.

    Skate parks are a good thing. Skate parks within 75 yards of my condo window would be a very bad thing.

  4. I live in the neighborhood, but not right next to it and often make excursions past it at random points throughout the day and evening. Can’t say I’ve see anyone ever use it past dark. Is it REALLY as constant as some people are trying to make it seem?

  5. I’ve lived across the street for over 8 years and the noise produced from the skatedot is not typical city noise. The sound of cars, trucks, emergency vehicles, dogs, drunks, etc… happens and it moves on within a relatively short period of time and is dispersed over a large area. This is what you would expect living in a city. The “shuu-thunk” (as one neighbor described it) that comes from the skatedot happens over & over for hours at a time and is frequently combined with loud inappropriate language less than 50yards from residents’ windows.
    Skateparks are needed in Seattle but unfortunately poor planning has placed one at the Summit Slope Park.

  6. …but for those tallying the for/against numbers, I submitted a letter to the Parks Commission in favor of the skate feature. I am a resident of the area and use the park frequently. I also like to watch the skaters and feel that they have a place in the neighborhood. I live about 4 blocks away and hear all kinds of ambient noise, including skateboarders, every day. It’s part of the fabric of the neighborhood. The repetitive sound for adjacent neighbors is a challenging one. I acknowledge that I don’t live on the block adjacent to the skatedot. If I did, would I feel differently? I don’t know. I hear that the routine recycling/garbage pick up at that Starbucks is agonizing for neighbors, too.

  7. No, it’s not constant noise. I live one block away on Bellevue& John, and rarely see any skaters there. Last night was gorgeous out, and when I walked by a couple times the place was empty. At this point the P-patchers are more populous than the skaters.

    Besides, noise in this area is nothing new. Skateboarders ride down the streets all the time, partiers make obnoxious loud chatter at all hours, garbage trucks clang around every morning… the skatedot is hardly an addition to all the ambient noise. This simply isn’t a quiet neighborhood, and never will be.

    For my part, as long as people keep it down after midnight and be respectful of the neighbors, I have no complaint. This is what a vibrant, dense urban neighborhood sounds like. This is the sound of a living space.

  8. I live at Bellvue and Thomas, and the windows in my apartment are all facing the skatedot. They are almost never out late, and the noise isn’t even close to a problem. All the whiners need to get their wet wipes out cause they’re acting like babies. Don’t like noise? Get out of the young noisy part of the city. Move to the CD or something.

  9. Do you work from home or spend a lot of time in your apartment? How good is your hearing? Are you good at blocking out noises? Are you a light sleeper?

  10. I think people complaining about this are ridiculous. Do they just sit in their houses all day and listen for skateboarders to complain about? Noise pollution is a problem, yes, especially in a dense neighborhood, and especially at night, but to try and deprive someone of making noise during the day, when it is permitted, and in a country where free expression is key to our identity, is ludicrous. At the most, go ahead and move the skating time limit to 9pm. I understand there are some people who need to go to bed that early. But, if I want to stand outside and sing at the top of my lungs all day, I have the right to do that just like the skaters have the right to ride around on their noisy boards all day.

    It’s a free country.

  11. It may be a free country but your understanding of the Seattle Municipal Code on noise control is sadly non-existent.

    “Noise” as you refer to it is not “permitted” during the day as you so freely think it is. Go ahead and make yourself a nuisance by singing at the top of your lungs and see what happens.

  12. Back in the 80’s our stuff was quiet, not sure why they use these hard ass wheels now? We used soft rubber and it was quiet as a mouse. Maybe those hard ass wheels slide better? Not sure, but they sound horrible. Like the metal wheels in my 70’s roller skates.

  13. If you live at Bellevue and Thomas, you’re pretty far away. I don’t see how your windows can face the Skatedot.

  14. so OFD , where should skate parks be, zoningwise, according to your Not In My (Condo’s) Back Yard philosophy? Rural farmland, suburban mcmansionville, the middle of only 150′ wide or larger parks? Industrial wasteland? Old condemned piers? Lemme guess: under the freeway?

    This is a sport/athletic-related recreation use for our parks. It has JUST as much right as bocci ball, tennis, basketball, and jogging to be deep in the midst of urban residential life.

  15. agreed: I drive by all night, minimum of 4 times during weekday nights, between 1am and 5am, and in the last year I’ve seen skaters once. They must really hit & run…?

  16. So, where exactly would you shunt these needed but off to, then?

    As far as planning, you do know that the proper planning meetings and reviews were all held for this, right?

    (I’d REALLY like to know how many people -currently up in arms about the park- pointedly ignored the notices before the park was built ? I just picture so many having blown it off: “A planning meeting? boring. Be active , even proactive, in democracy? Why would I do THAT??’)

  17. Yeah, 600 ft sure is far away…

    …it’s like it’s not the same block or neighborhood or anything. Sheesh.
    – maybe you should stand in the park someday and take a look around at how many buildings actually face it…

    (fwiw, The Veduta bldg at Bellevue & Thomas is 6 stories tall, and it has windows facing toward the park ).

  18. I for one would welcome more singing
    and less, say, dumptruck noise from the Link pit or inane conversation from the Oliveway pub crawl bottle-rats or the loud annoying whine and cablewhapping from the #14 bus or some highschooler with (only) the bass boosted in their civic. Db-wise, singing would be a relief.

    Regardless, it’s a damn city. City = vibrant noise at all hours.

    Eckstein is fairly correct about noise control: 25.08.500 defines human voice as AOK- just don’t intentionally try and disturb a particular person, and only use your unamplified voice after 7am and before 10pm – and you should be within the law. Now public nuisance (non-noise related) might be another story.
    and DPD dir rule 12-2011 regarding nighttime (amplified, even) sound: says that 65db inside and 85Db outside are the limit.

  19. 2 glass-block walls running north/south. 7′ tall, the length of & on either side of the skate dot.
    Glass-block walls would dramatically contain noise resonance, look kinda cool, and users wouldn’t feel trapped in because of transparency.
    + Glass block is durable/ tag-friendly/ cleanable/ cheap/ 80’s kitch.
    + The chain link fence thing, anyway? Slack-ass feature in an otherwise interesting park.

  20. What noise(s) will they ban next because someone’s condo window faces it?

    Pedestrians chatting as they walk along the sidewalk?

    When people choose to live in the city, they do so knowing peace and quiet will not always be 100%. City living, to some extent, is about compromises. You get to live in the city, enjoy the resources it has and pay a little price for it. Otherwise, feel free to move to Mt Vernon. It’s pretty quiet up there.

  21. most people that rent on the hill have chosen that area for it’s eclectic atmosphere, lots of youunger people provide an active nightlife scene, groups of hipsters stumbling home late past last calls. people have been complaining about that for all the years i lived on the hill. if someone rents by the park and don’t like the noise, move, off the hill perhapse…. ballard or even further into suburbia where after ten everyone has slipped into thier snuggies and drifted to dreamland. for those who purchased condos in that neighborhood, they should know what kind of area they’re making such a large financial commitment in and stop trying to ruin the fun of everyone else. although i know longer live on the hill (due to me hitting my thirties) i work on it and get sad inside everytime the yuppies want kill the fun.