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Parks Board recommends keeping Summit Slope skatedot — UPDATE: Still issues to work out

View video of the skatedot in use

The skateboard feature at the center of months of debate and thousands of dollars in safety and signage upgrades at Summit Slope Park should stay, the Seattle Parks Board voted last week. The recommendation follows weeks of public feedback after some neighbors living in the area had continued to complain that safety features added to the park did nothing to quell unsuitable noise levels for a residential area. Here are details from last week’s vote posted by the Seattle Skateparks Web site:

In its May 26th meeting, following a very in-depth discussion, the Board of Park Commissioners voted 4-3 to support the staff recommendation to keep the Summit Slope skatedot!

Part 1 – (discussion begins at 30:00)

Part 2 –

This was a very, very close vote, with age discrimination playing a huge role in the decision making process.  In almost all references to skaters, they are referred to as “kids.”  At one point, there is even a suggestion to enclose the entire skatedot in a glass box and make it available only to children with parental supervision!  Board member Jordan Keith really does a great job of speaking truth to power at 79:29 in Part 1:

“There’s no protections for age unless you’re 41 or older.  When you’re younger, you get a lot less voice and a lot less say, and a lot less clout in what activities you might want to do, and what benefits there are from them.  And it’s a sport that by and large, it’s much younger people that do that.  And by and large, because I work with them people, I’m very aware of the fact that, generally speaking, people are annoyed by those people.  And it’s a problem.  And there’s no protection for that.”

Board member Jackie Ramels also noted that, in official correspondence to the Park Board, 41 people supported this skatedot, and 17 opposed it.  These are compelling numbers.


The board’s vote is only a recommendation to acting Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams who must now decide on a final resolution to the issues around the skatedot. We have e-mail out to Parks and will update when we can tell you more about what happens next with the process. UPDATE: Williams is on vacation this week so might have much to report from Parks on this for a few days.

UPDATE x2: The Parks Board also passed a motion that recommends Parks creates a working group to examine the Summit Slope skatedot issues in more depth. Parks says this group’s recommendations will be the basis for the superintendent’s final decision on the feature. 

For the past month, Seattle Parks has been asking for public feedback on the skatedot feature. In one mid-May meeting, the board heard from people on both sides of the debate. On one hand, some people who lived near the skateboarding feature were unhappy to have to put up with what they said was an unacceptably loud — and constant — source of noise. On the other, skaters argued that the process had been followed and that the feature was one of the few examples of in-city infrastructure designed specifically for legal skateboarding.

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8 thoughts on “Parks Board recommends keeping Summit Slope skatedot — UPDATE: Still issues to work out

  1. ….at least remove the most northern section piece of fence. That is SUCH an eyesore and pointless unless a skatboard shot and curved in mid air and headed toward the street. The entire fence is the worst part about the skatedot feature by far and not getting enough attention IMHO.

  2. Watching the board debate the issue was an intensely frustrating experience.

    The people who are for the skatedot just stonewalled and were utterly dismissive of any reasonable attempts to discuss the issue, basically saying, “young people are noisy but it’s a noisy area anyway, so suck it up.” I’ve lived two blocks from the park for 9 years and before the skatedot it was NOT a noisy area. Aside from the occasional brief loud conversation between people leaving the bars or a car going by with the stereo cranked, this is really a pretty quiet residential block, day or night. Starbucks delivery trucks banging their lifts around at midnight shouldn’t be tolerated either and in no way justifies creating additional noise. Listening to people grinding and kick-flipping over and over is not just “city noise” and is no easier to tolerate than having a car alarm going off outside your window at all hours.

    I continue to be unimpressed by so-called youth and skating advocates who insist on putting an inherently loud skate feature right next to offices and residences where conflict with the neighbors is a virtual certainty. If you want more skate features (and I really do), what’s wrong with locating them two blocks closer to I-5 where the additional sound (which you grow to love if you skate as part of the experience, but is foreign and grating if you don’t skate) truly wouldn’t be a problem for the neighbors? Desperately clinging to a fundamentally flawed idea is not good advocacy and leaving this poorly located feature in place sets a precedent for future skatedots that says, “hey neighbors, don’t even let them get their foot in the door with a skate feature because if it’s a problem, you’ll be stuck with it!”

  3. I hate to be “the one,” but you already answered your own plea.

    Your comment is wrong on so many levels. I truly mean this in the most respectful way possible, so know that. I’ll start by saying that, we are certainly in agreement regarding the frustration when this was previously being discussed, but not for the same reasons.

    The reason opposition to the Skate Dot feature was “stone-walled,” I suspect, is simply for the fact that there is no better answer. You’re going to just have to deal with it. If you hadn’t noticed, Cap Hill is changing. It’s becoming more developed as more people start to live here. There’s only so much Hill, so we all have to live in less and less space. This is typical of any city as they continue to grow and thrive.

    I understand that you’re frustrated. You’re a longer-ish term resident of this sliver of CH, and as such, are probably used to certain “standards.” That said, that does not entitle you to have those standards maintained. Just as any resident in a highrise can (unless previously protected) have their view killed by another highrise being built next door, your desired level of noise is not protected. You’re entitled to your slice of CH, but you need to realize that everyone else is, too. That means the folks who use the Skate Dot (bearing in mind that they’re using it legally and within rules.) This is all part and parcel of living in a city, knowing that we’re sharing space and whatnot.

    Again, respectfully, to counterpoint, I continue to be unimpressed by the “established” residents of Capitol Hill that continually pine for the “good old days” and try to stop urban development. If you don’t like your house next to the skate-dot, you’re free to head on out. We all know that we live in one giant compromise (knowing that those with the means can “compromise” a little less, but regardless, it still is a compromise.) Part of that compromise is knowing that any space can be developed or even redeveloped against our liking.

    You’re not entitled to the neighborhood any more than the next resident. I find the attitude you’re exhibiting to be exceptionally grating and truly foreign considering the general inclusiveness of Capitol Hill. As well, it is classic Not In My Backyard attitude and so, so unattractive.

  4. Wow-it boggles the mind that you could interpret my assertion that I want well-planned skate features in my neighborhood as a “Not In My Backyard attitude.”

    If this skate feature was in any of a dozen places within a few blocks of the current site where it’s already noisy, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. How about Cal Anderson? How about next to the off leash dog park? How about a much larger feature in the middle of the mountain bike park under the freeway? How about in that gravel lot across Denny from the Orion Youth Center? None of those locations would have disturbed anyone, and several would provide badly needed visual exposure to the general public, lending validity to the sport instead of contributing to the stereotype that skateboarding is nothing more than a nuisance. I know some skaters enjoy how their look and actions piss people off, but the whole point of skatedots is to make skating more acceptable, right?

    With a better site selection, there never would have been a problem. Yes, a spirit of compromise is important in resolving conflicts, but compromise means that both sides give something up. For example, the parks dept takes their lumps and spends the money to move the skatedot to a different location that’s better for everyone, and the skaters wait several months for a new site to get built. Simply removing the skatedot is not a compromise. Neither is telling everyone who lives nearby to just suck it up.

    With increased density and changing demographics, thoughtful planning becomes more important, not less so. This is a very intelligent neighborhood in a very intelligent city, and it can and should have brilliantly planned and executed development. Why should any current or future resident have to put up with short-sighted planning and belligerence from a vocal minority?

  5. It sounds to me that any place not within your earshot would be considered more “thoughtful planning.”

    And, yes, your attitude is NIMBY. You have stated in a round-about way that the skate-dot feature is great, just as long as it’s thoughtfully placed where it doesn’t put any additional bother on your “standards.”

    To the folks down the street that might be breathing a sigh of relief that the skate-dot feature isn’t nearer to them, they’re probably thinking the current placement is well-planned and thoughtful just as it is.

    And to the users of the skate-dot feature, they might consider the group opposing them to be “belligerent” and whatnot.

    Besides, Cal Anderson needs more bike polo courts. There’s no additional room!

  6. I don’t live very near this park…thankfully…so I think I can be a bit more objective. It seems very clear that this is a terrible location for a skate park and was bound to cause problems. AbstractMonkeys (have to wonder about the origin of that name!) has mentioned a number of nearby locations that would be much more suitable and conflict-free…not sure that all of those are actually feasible, but I agree with the concept that the “skatedot” should be relocated. Unfortunately, it would be surprising if the acting Parks Superintendent overruled his Board. Government bureaucracies are not exactly known for admitting their mistakes and changing course.

    I had to laugh with the assertion by the writer at the SeattleSkateparks website that the decision was affected by “age discrimination.” Hello? The decision is in your favor! If anyone can now claim “age discrimination,” it’s those middle-aged and older people who live nearby and who object to the noise.

    Now that the decision has been made, I think it is crucial that the closing time for the park (10PM) be respected by the skaters, and that it be enforced rigorously if necessary. Otherwise, there will be ongoing conflict.

  7. In trying to make the spot safer they have almost made it usless and unskateable, the “safety” turtles make very little sense by acting as a barrier to actually skating the feature with speed. but what else could be expected from a city with so many one way streets.