Windemere board holds line on skateboards in La Jolla neighborhood

By Dave Schwab

Windemere residents divided for weeks over a new homeowners board rule restricting skateboarders have agreed to meet in the middle.

At the Windemere HOA Board meeting last week all parties — including children — got to air their views, culminating in movement on both sides.

Those caught riding skateboards outside one designated area still face a $50 fine, under the rule approved unanimously by the five-member association board.

But the board agreed the new restriction wouldn’t apply to other foot-powered vehicles and selected a more suitable designated skateboard site in the maintenance area behind the pond. Initially the board wanted skateboarders — and those on roller skates and scooters — to move to an often-crowded parking lot near the tennis courts.

The prohibition in effect since Sept. 2 is being enforced by security guards on golf carts.

Its implementation caused several Windemere residents with children, such as Dawn Villela, to protest. She gathered along with 25 to 30 kids and parents Aug. 27 in front of her neighborhood — one of La Jolla’s first gated communities built in the ‘70s with 146 detached homes and 157 townhomes — to start a movement to recall the new skateboarding rule.

“It is not a family-friendly community, and this new rule highlights the continual harassment directed at Windemere residents with children from a board that is primarily comprised of retired, senior citizens and individuals without children,” resident Dawn Villela said in an e-mail to the Light.

Following the HOA Board’s compromise proposal Sept. 15, Villela said,

“I would prefer to have the kids in front of my house for all activities, but if skateboarding is the ‘only’ item being restricted, and they are providing an acceptable designated area where they can skateboard, I can live with that.” 
Though not built or marketed strictly as an over-55 development, the majority of Windemere occupants are childless. Reliable estimates indicate the percentage of families there with young children to be about 15 percent most of the year, increasing to 40 percent during summer when part-time residents arrive from Mexico.
 The HOA Board laid out its rationale for restricting skateboard use in a letter sent recently to Windemere residents.

“Skateboarding has been on our agenda many times for various reasons, most notably safety,” the board letter stated. “The HOA would be more liable for a lawsuit if an accident were to happen and the Board had not publicly taken steps to address this situation with rules for children’s safety. … Skateboarding down our streets have presented many close calls and we have to take these measures to make sure our children, and all of our residents, are as safe as possible and very important for all which is the HOA Board’s legal obligation to all our residents. … All of us on the board deliberated for months knowing this was not going to be a popular decision.”

Neither Windemere HOA’s president, the other four boardmembers nor the development’s manager responded to repeated calls and e-mails from the Light before or after the Sept. 15 HOA Board meeting.

Windemere mom Lisa Alexander said the “organized protest” of the new HOA anti-skateboarding rule has been “empowering both to the parents and to the children,” noting she didn’t realize there was so much public support for “kid’s rights.”

Juan Carlos, another part-time Windemere resident from Mexico, said the HOA board “has been very aggressive against kids.” But he believes that’s largely because they no longer are in touch with children or their issues.

“They have forgotten that they used to be kids also,” he said.

Villela contends that the way circulation in Windemere is set up — a long winding road (Caminito Blythefield which turns into Caminito Merion) runs throughout the development with numerous cul-de-sacs branching off — makes it a perfect place for children to play safely in front of their homes.