Build it and they will…

How long have you lived in the area?
I have been in SD for just about 8years now. Currently, I live in La Jolla.

How long have you been skating?
24 years, long enough to know that I will be a cripple in my later life.

How did you get involved with the Penesquitos Park?
One afternoon while at Willy’s Workshop, Willy (Santos) asked me to go to a city council meeting about a new skate park. I went and continued to go every meeting there after. I was the only skateboarder for the earlier series of meetings and eventually became a kind of voice for the skate community.

Was convincing the city to build the park difficult?
The city of PQ had been beating the skate park idea around for close to six years. There was one failed attempt to build a mega complex on Hilltop Park nearby. Some years later, Caltrans found they had no need for a piece of land previously set aside for extra parking. The 23,000sq.ft. dirt pit turned out to be the ideal spot for a park and drew very little negative response After the park was voted into existence, the few people (like four) that own houses up a hill located at the backside of Carmel Mtn. Rd. began to show up and complain about noise and lighting. The city ended up just installing the light conduit and junctions for the fixtures only. When we have more data about the noise then maybe lights will become available. Until then the park will close at dark.

Has getting this park built been a long process?
The city kind of pushed this one out in a hurry. I think they saw and opportunity and acted on it. I think this is the fastest built park I have ever seen.

How did you become a main voice in the process?
As far as the skate populous went with the latest project, I was the last guy at all the meetings and thus the representative by default. I didn’t go with the intention of becoming head of skate or anything. I just wanted to be there and get all the info. Just going to city council meetings and being there is the most important step. That's the key issue, just being there and voicing your opinion.

Who have you been working with on this project?
Steve Shuper and the Schmidt Design Group, Steve/Larry and the 3D Construction Crew, the City of San Diego Park and Rec. Dept., John and Jona at Hazard County Construction and Willy Santos.

What has been the hardest part of getting the park built?
The hardest part of the process had to be sitting through the three plus hours of city council community issues; i.e. soccer, baseball, football, stop lights and just about anything related to the general operations of a city. That is the primary reason I became so involved with the park. I was “last man standing” at every meeting.

Were you involved with the design process?
Not initially. I just showed up and voiced my opinions. I became directly involved after a few complaints over the 1st layout. The designer decided he would like to present a second layout during the council meeting the next day. So, this guy charges over to my house, unfolds his layout, tosses it on the table in front of my friend Joel and myself. For an hour and a half I layout a park based on the general footprint of his current design. The next evening the council votes in my design.

How do you approach designing a skate park?
In this situation, felt there was a lack of legitimate street features in the current local skate parks. Also, the Poway skate park is 10mins or less driving from the PQ park. Poway has one of the better, if not best bowls, in So Cal. A lot of skate park designs lately have been focusing heavily on the Bowl Revival theme. I personally love transition, though; I love every aspect of skateboarding. I catch a lot of flak from the older crowd over the lack of a bowl. I think this park is kind of to street skating, what the Washington Street skate park is to tranny skaters. Overall, I wanted the PQ Park to have a setup very different from that of any park so far. It’s very unique and I can’t wait to see the wood structures take shape. I’m onsite twice a day.

How has your involvement in this affected your life?
Basically, I wake up at 4am. Go to work. Take my lunch break around 9:30-10am and go straight to the park to check out what's happening. From their I go back to work, finish at 2pm and go right back to the park. During the early stage of construction, I changed something about every time I showed up. I felt like the 3D guys were like, “oh crap, here comes that skate dude again.”

What would you say to other skaters that want a local park in their town?
Find out when your city council meets and just simply go. Speak up and tell them that you want a skate park, or better yet, that they need a skate park. Take an army with you. Keep showing up with as many people as possible. The best way to show the city your serious is with bodies. Parents are crucial too. Persistence pays.

How do you feel now that it's almost done?
I’m amazed at the whole process. The park is just unbelievable. Considering the remarkably short amount of design time, I’m very satisfied with it. A perfectionist in general, I could pick apart the park, finding things that I don’t like. There are mistakes as with any large-scale project, but nothing terrible. Some things worked out better than hoped for. The skate park process flows like that kids game where one kid tells the next kid something and he tells the next kid and by the time you finish there is some twisted version of the original subject. Basically, I did a layout. Steve Shuper did detailed specs. The city engineer figures out how water needs to drain and so forth and the city puts the park up for the lowest bid. Several more steps and then the contractor get to take all the info, translate and build. One of the most important things I learned is that if you want something built correctly you MUST provide as much detail as humanly capable. If possible, be onsite as much as you can. Once things get set into concrete, changes are nearly impossible. Had I not been onsite so often, the park would be drastically different.

When is it set to open?
There isn’t an official date yet but the general assumption and goal has been the beginning of March.

What kind of rules/fees will there be?
A low point for the project so far, the usual full pad rule is in effect. PQ Park is part of the San Diego Park and Rec. Dept. so their rules apply. The cost has been set at $30.00 for a 3-month pass or $5.00 a day. I’m putting together a presentation for the city in hopes of lessening the pad requirements down to possibly helmet only. There is an added incentive that if you purchase the 3 month deal you have access to the other SD Park/Rec skate parks. I’m doing what I can to change all this and educate the city about the consequences of their decision to charge entry fees.

Who are some of the local pro’s/am’s that will be skating the park?
The park is located next to Willys Workshop so you know that Willy Santos will be a local. You’ll probably see the likes of Chris Dobstaff, Adam Louder, Danny Wallace, Paul Sewell, Jaime Palmore, Jimmy Cao, Andrew Sprigle, the entire Poway Park Army (you know who you are), so many good skateboarders. Maybe Colt Cannon could be a regular; he has been at Poway several times lately. I would hope that every pro skateboarder would come through sooner or later. Look out for an opening week slew of demos.

You wanna tell us your sponsors and any one you'd like to thank?
I get flow from Willys Workshop, Powell Skateboards, Bones Wheels, Planet Earth Clothing, Adio Shoes, and Blues Skateboard Products
I'd like to thank Mom and Dad, Willy and Shalihe Santos and the whole Workshop Posse. Nate Sherwood and Family for the couch tour hospitality. 3D Construction Crew and Steve for his patients, hard work and willingness to listen. Steve Shuper at Schmidt Design Group for his hard work and putting up with all my changes. Both the cities of PQ and San Diego for making this a reality. CJ and Mike Taylor at Skate One. Danny, Travis, Jeff Taylor, Jay Lee and the whole Earth Products staff. Joel King for giving me chances I never might have had. Joe Runkle. Blair at Transworld. Steve Krause. Jayme Erickson. Scott Taylor for this interview and all the rest of the people who support this kind of effort. Step up to the city and get some.