Skateboarders are now prohibited from traveling along Collins Avenue in Sunny Isles Beach.
An ordinance was passed Thursday banning the use of skateboards on sidewalks along Collins and Sunny Isles Beach Boulevard. The ordinance was amended to also prohibit other non-motorized or motorized devices, including Segways, scooters and roller skates.
There will be a 90-day period before enforcement begins to educate residents about the ordinance. Sunny Isles Beach Police Chief Fred Maas recommended the city implement an educational outreach program, which will include a presentation to students at Norman S. Edelcup K-8 public school and the distribution of brochures.
Maas also suggested placing signage about the law on the streets.
Loretta Mufson, a 54-year-old homemaker and mother of a 14-year-old son who skateboards, voiced her concern before the vote. She has seen few problems with skateboarders and noted there have been no reported accidents, a fact that Maas previously confirmed.
“We always want kids to get off the couch,” Mufson said. “Skateboarding is a vigorous exercise.”
Instead of passing the ordinance, Mufson suggested that skateboarders be educated about safety and courtesy.
But Commissioner Jeanette Gatto said Collins Avenue is “too slim” to accommodate skateboarders, making it difficult for pedestrians.
“It is important for pedestrians, especially the elderly, to have a safe place to walk,” said Gatto, adding 80 percent of the skateboarders in the city are not Sunny Isles Beach residents.
There is skate park inside Town Center Park, 17200 Collins Ave., that attracts visitors.
Vice Mayor Isaac Aelion said he agreed with Mufson and rarely saw skateboarders on sidewalks. He noted there were no incidents of physical harm except for an elderly woman who told commissioners at the April 17 meeting how she was injured by a skateboarder while walking on a sidewalk on Collins Avenue, which prompted the drafting of the ordinance.
Commissioner George “Bud” Scholl, who was absent from the first reading of the ordinance, said the commission was reacting to one or two incidents.
“If we are not careful with the ordinances we pass, it will make it difficult to enforce,” Scholl said. “We don’t have the resources to regularly enforce the ordinance.”
At the first reading of the ordinance, on May 15, Maas advocated for an education awareness campaign instead of direct enforcement.
Commissioner Jennifer Levin said that if the ordinance doesn’t work it could always be amended or rescinded.
“It is not written in stone,” Levin said.
Mayor Norman S. Edelcup noted there was much more traffic on Collins Avenue and the ordinance doesn’t prohibit skateboarding on other streets. He also stated that the few incidents the city is aware may be more of a growing problem.
“There may be more people who aren’t telling the city and are just mumbling to themselves,” Edelcup said.
The ordinance was approved 3-2, with Aelion and Scholl dissenting.
First-time offenders will be issued a verbal warning after the 90-day grace period. Offenders will then be required to perform community service to be administered by City Manager Christopher J. Russo. If the offender fails to comply, a fine not exceeding $50 will be imposed.
Also on Thursday, commissioners approved a $14,000 settlement in a federal lawsuit filed against the city. Caridad Martinez, a former city employee, sought an overtime claim, said city attorney Hans Ottinot, who noted she filed a similar suit in Pinecrest. Her employment as an event coordinator with the city’s Cultural and Community Services Department ended last year.