Repeal SB 1179—Helmet & Pad Law

UPDATE 11/20 - The Petition is now closed. We received over 10,700 signatures!

UPDATE 9/15 - This repeal got so messed up you would not believe! I've never seen a bunch of unsmart people in my life! The bill got twisted up and has been signed into effect which means skateboarders will be plagued with the skatepark helmet and pad laws extending until 2012. Anyway, the fight is not over. The petition is still good through November and ongoing and with Morrow out of office now and hopefully others who sabataged it will butt out and we can really get on with it. Please help spread the word about the petition. It's rapidly approaching 6,000 signatures!

Find out who your Senator is and write asking to repeal the skatepark helmet and pad law, Now 1179.

Petition to Repeal Calilfornia SB 1179

UPDATE 8/3 - NOTE: I have removed the Tony Hawk Foundation from the below list. It has been confirmed that Tony personally supported the REPEAL of SB 994 in the beginning, not it's continuation until 2012. Some tricky politics are being played for sure. It's likely that more of the supporters they show are actually not in support of the newly revised bill. It strikes me very odd that I originated this repeal and they don't show me as a supporter? Pretty funny. Tricky politics!

UPDATE: 6/28 - Senator Morrow has let SB 1179 (which is now NOT a repeal, but extending the current legislation including helmet and pad laws for California) go through. It was voted by the Assembly Judiciary committee yesterday to be put on the consent calendar in the general Assembly which will happen real soon. Normally, items on the consent calendar do not get heard by the entire Assembly if there are no opposers. There ARE opposers but they are not listing them. Some of the groups who jumped on board after the bill was introduced have NOT withdrawn their support of the now changed bill and appear on record to SUPPORT it's new meaning. Those groups are:

California Association of Joint Powers Authorities
California State Association of Counties
City of Arcadia
City of Concord
City of Diamond Bar
City of Laguna Hills
City of Lake Forest
City of Moreno Valley
City of Palm Desert
City of Santa Barbara
Civil Justice Association of California
International Association of Skateboard Companies (IASC)
League of California Cities
Mayor of the City of Concord

The analysis does not show any opposers, although myself and 4,900 of you on my petition have expressed opposition. SPAUSA has openly withdrawn support in light of the totally revised text, yet is not shown as opposing it. I understand The Tony Hawk Foundation does not involve themselves politically or endorse legislation, (but, I understand Tony personally supported the bill (repeal) in its original form while in the Senate) yet the Tony Hawk Foundation is listed as supporting the new bill. This is way out of context. Wow, somebody really wants this bill to pass just to pass, hell with what does to skateboarders. Typical when an author is running for office. What it does is keep skateboarders harassed and ticketed in skateparks, thus driving them away where they are getting killed one per week skateboarding outside of skateparks.

Except for Concord, these are all So. Cal. entities. Are they seriously believing the scare tactic IASC is putting out again that all the California skateparks will be bulldozed if this bill isn't on the books? There was never that threat to any parks I know of, certainly none in Nor. Cal., and I can't find anyone who will actually confirm this is true. Can anyone tell me even one skatepark that was built because only because SB 994 is on the books? Can anyone name even one skatepark that stated it would close if this bill isn't on the books? Am I seeing that list before my eyes on the list above?

Anyway, all these questions and mysteries will not go unaddressed, I promise, especially why Senator Morrow did not stay on the side of the skateboarders he led us to believe he was on. He had opportunity to pull out and let the bill sunset, like it should have 3 years ago when he pushed it through AGAIN! In the meantime, this is the last chance to show your OPPOSITION to SB 1179 or it will just extend the current law until 2012.

WRITE TO YOUR ASSEMBLYMEMBER ASAP and Governor Arnold who will ultimately approve or disapprove this bill. He needs to know the truth behind it.

To find your Assemblymember go here and click on "Find My District."

Also, write letters to your local press.

UPDATE: 6/10 - At the last minute at the hearing, Senator Morrow changed the bill text to lower the arbitrary age liability limit to 12, and to extend SB 996 through 2012. This is nowhere even close to dealing with the problems of the helmet and pad laws, and does not answer to the demands of our petition to say the least. So, it passed and was sent on to the Assembly for approval. The Assembly will hold a hearing on the bill this Tuesday, June 13th. Please contact the Assembly Judiciary Committee and express your dissatisfaction with the new text and ask them to veto SB 1179 and let SB 996 sunset in 2007.

Due to the short notice, you might want to call the committee at the number on the link to express your concerns. It's not that confusing really, and this issue needs the support of a ton of skaters. Mob rules in this democracy, so get on it as it will have a dramatic effect on all skateboarders.

UPDATE: 5/17 - The bill has been changed, the only changes are lowering the age limit for liability, and extending the bill another 4 years through 2012. The best advice I can give at this point is for skaters to write or call your immediate State Senate Reps, and State Assembly Reps (Not Congress) and ask them to veto Morrow's SB 1176. Ask them to repeal or let SB 994 sunset and explain the problems you have with the helmet and pad law and ticketing. Democrats are likely to be more receptive to skateboarders and have majority rule, but it's important that you write to the senators and assemblypersons who represent you according to where you live.

To find your rep:

5/3/06 - Kooked out. They win; I'm out. The bill has no chance of passing the way it's being handled. The hearing will be May 9th at 1:30 pm Rm 112, state capitol. Sorry, skateboarders, I tried. It was looking good the way it worked out, until kooks tried to take credit for what I was doing. A good story will come out of this though! Inquiring minds want to know. Stay tuned to my tabloid. Did I mention kooks?

4/10/06 DON'T KILL THE BILL! - Some industry members and their representatives are putting out press that contains false information concerning SB 994 and SB 1179 that I feel will be detrimental to our repeal. It misrepresents the bill entirely. I encourage you to NOT use form letters. There are some posts on some skate forums that also have misinformation and misguidance; please make sure you are well informed on the issue of SB 1179 before contacting Senators or it can have a very adverse effect.

Right now the bill is kind of stalled in-process in the Jucidiary Committee. As soon as it gets moving again, I will post a notice here and let everyone know what's up. Thanks to everyone who has offered to help.


If anyone would like to help with a letterwriting campaign, please contact me and I will help you identify your California State Senator representative and help you compose an original letter.
clarkie (at) realskate (dot) com

Media Attention:

Global Surf News - Senate bill aims to lift helmet rules at skateparks 2/12/06

Santa Cruz Sentinel - Senate bill aims to lift helmet rules at skateparks 2/11/06

Senator Morrow's Office - Press Release 2/9/06

Senator Morrow, in response to seeing our petition met all the petition's demands to repeal SB 994, Repeal H&S 115800, and add skateboarding to the HRA list GC 831.7 (see the text of these bills below) and introduced SB 1179 to the Senate floor on 1/17/06.

California Aggie - "Skaters Challenge California's Helmet and Pad Law" 11/23/05
An interview with Dick Guthrie of So. Cal. Skatepark Coalition, and John Bernards from IASC and yours truly. It gives an accurate account of what those two organizations want for skateboarding, and answers the question why they would not work with me though I am a member of SCSC. Helmets!

Please sign our Petition!

Before you read on, please understand this does not mean we are against wearing helmets. In our opinion this law was never about safety. Injury statistics in skateparks do not support a state law or health and safety code just for skateboarding. We believe it should be an individual or family choice and that nobody should be fined or arrested for their choice not to wear safety gear. The law never included skateboarding on the Hazardous Recreational List as we were led to believe. We understand the HRA status is all that's needed to free public parks of liabilities, if that ever really was an issue. Please click link for more history and please sign the petition to help bring some fairness and equal rights to skateboarders. 11/10/05

Special thanks to Heidi Lemmon and Jeff Greenwood for their support. Thanks to all the skate mags, organizations, and websites for their support by offering free space, newsletters, and for hosting notices on their forums:

Concrete Disciples
Paying in Pain
Concrete Wave
Love Park
Skate Daily
Deluxe SF
UC Davis Aggie
Skate Works

Juice Magazine
Fun Not Fame Productions
World Cup Skateboarding
So. Cal.

If I missed anybody, please contact me and your name will go here and also on the petition cover letter.


Please support skateboarders by signing the petitions:

California Repeal and add HRA Status:

Perhaps the biggest injustice, in my opinion, ever imposed on skateboarders was this California law apparently initiated by IASC, a nonprofit group of skateboarding for-profit manufacturers. We were under the impression we had to support it or skateparks would close and no new parks would be built without a law to protect cities from injury liability lawsuits. Although a skateboarder suing a city over an injury in a skatepark was unheard of and still is, and injuries were minimal, we assumed it would be cool to put skateboarding on the "hazardous recreational activity" (HRA) list if it meant cities would be exempt from lawsuits arising from injuries.

It never made it to that list. Instead we got a helmet and pad law with restrictions. It has an age restriction, 14 and under are not covered under the "protection" of the law, covered skaters only while doing a trick, some confusing language on supervised or unsupervised parks, forced all California cities to draw up an ordinance and post it at all parks, and left nebulous whether or not to enforce it or just post a sign. However, no sports on the HRA list have any gear stipulations. It also does not allow immunity if there is a fee for performing a hazardous recreational activity on public property. There are a lot of competitions with entry fees, and also several cities in So. Cal. have been charging admission and membership fees at public skateparks.

IASC and So. Cal. Skatepark Coalition claims to be working with Senator Morrow on rewriting SB 994 proposing to get pads only removed. Both groups support helmet requirements. To me it's NOT GOOD ENOUGH to rewrite the law, just remove pads, or just add to the HRA list without removing the conflicting law. With the law still on the books, we will be right back where we started, with cities in total confusion whether or not to enforce the law resulting in stiff fines and the beginning of a criminal record for skaters who prefer not to wear helmets at skateparks. I tried to work with them as a paid member of So. Cal. Skatepark Coalition but was ignored. Thus taking it upon myself to start the repeal movement.

Another unfortunate matter is that other states put forth similar laws following California assuming it was supported by the skateboarders and cities. It was not. An Internet search will show all the media attention stating that skateboarding was put on the HRA list. It was not.

It has been questionable if cities ever really were protected and exempt from injury liability under SB 994 and H & S 115800 since there were no records of liability lawsuits by skateboarders at a skatepark. And lawyers said it was too poorly written. Actually there was one case here in Santa Cruz County that SB 994 did not protect and the County was successfully sued for negligence. SB 994 failed to protect the County as it was proven the kid was traveling and not doing a "trick." If skateboarding had been on the HRA list, the lawsuit would not have occurred.

And injuries have been low; mostly affecting ankles, wrists and arms. The State Judicial Council sent me skatepark injury statistics reported by California cities pursuant to SB 994 (see below) and they are very minor injuries. Reports included years 2001 and 2002. In 2003 and 2004 no injury reports were reported to the Judicial Council. Their research included not only injuries but lawsuits and there were none.

Please help to repeal SB 994 and Health & Safety Code 115800 and amend Government Code 831.7 (HRA list) to include skateboarding. Let skateboarders skate freely in the parks a lot of them fought very hard to get, raised money and donated time at city council meetings for many many years. Let skateboarders and parents make their own protective gear choices as is done with other sports even those with exceedingly higher injury rates triple those of skateboarding. No other sport has a gear requirement enforced by the COPs!

As for now, it's not how many signatures we get on the petition, but how many Senators we will get to support it and write a bill. Please write to your Senator. Find out how to do that here click on "Your Senator" to find out who represents you. Remind them how many skateboarders are of voting age!

Text of:

AB 1296 - The first Morrow law as passed in the Assembly

SB 994 - The amended law that extends to 2008

H & S 115800 - The Health and Safety Code added specifically to make helmet and pad rules for skateboarders in skateparks.

GC 831.7 - The "Hazardous Recreational Activity" List

SB 1924 - Vehicle code adding skateboarding to the bicycle code requiring helmets be worn by those age 17 and under on roadways and bike paths. This repeal does not affect this law, I just put it here because there is also a lot of confusion concerning it and who and where it covers. Again the media interpreted it as a law that whereever you skate if you are 17 and under and on a skateboard you must be wearing a helmet. This law had nothing to do with skateparks or other public property other than roads and bikeways. It actually had nothing to do with skateboarding. It was proposed by some So. Cal. children after one of their classmates was killed crossing the street on a scooter. It is a vehicle code and only applies to roads and bikeways, Real Skate approves of this law, absolutely.


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