Officials in one California city thought they had what it would take to keep people away from a local skate park: 37 tons of sand.
They were wrong.
While the skateboarders at Ralphs Skate Court in San Clemente, California, were temporarily deterred by the city’s attempt to enforce the state’s strict social distancing measures put in place to fight the coronavirus, a group of dirt bikers was only encouraged.
Connor Ericsson, a 25-year-old content creator with Buttery Films, told CNN he saw the parks filled with sand on the news and thought it would be a good opportunity to take some dirt bikes to the park.
Video he posted to Instagram showed the bikers popping wheelies and launching off the park’s jumps.
Ericsson told CNN that once they were finished riding, the group teamed up with local skateboarders to move the sand by hand. “There’s major pushback,” he said of the locals’ feelings about the sand. “No one was happy about the sand in the park.”
Ericsson said the city went too far by singling out the skate park.
“They don’t put sand in other parks,” he told CNN. “You’re telling me you’re allowed to go to Walmart, where there’s 500 people at once, but you can’t go to the skate park where there’s only a handful of kids who want to be outside because they’ve been cooped up?”
The filmmaker added that he “understands the severity of the situation and that we need to slow down the spike and the curve,” but he draws the line at putting sand in the community park.
Attempts to reach San Clemente government officials for comment weren’t returned. But a press release posted by the city on April 1 said that while “the City recognizes the importance of physical activity and fresh air,” the parks were closed to “help slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.” Try the city’s trail system instead, it said.
About 80 miles to the north, the Venice Skate Park in Venice Beach was filled, too.
Hunter Weiss, a 23-year-old videographer in Venice, California, captured the sand piling in on his Instagram.
Though Weiss understands the need for social distancing, he said he thinks officials went too far there, too.
“I believe Americans have the right to be outside and social distancing,” he told CNN. “For example, surfing can be social distancing but the ocean is ‘closed.’ Running can be social distancing but the paths are ‘closed.’”
The move was done in according with LA County Department of Public and Health orders, said a spokesperson for LA City Recreation and Parks.
“The sand is a deterrent, which has been used in the past, for those who continue to violate the orders and for the health and wellness of all LA residents,” the spokesperson said. “Once the orders are lifted and the skate parks are reopened, the sand will be removed.”
In the interest of safety, all LA City skate parks are closed until further notice.