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Encinitas neighbors oppose backyard skate pool

Some Encinitas residents are upset about a “skate park” being built in the backyard of their neighbor’s home. Ken Weinzetl and Mike Quinn, who have owned homes in their Village Park-area neighborhood for over 40 years, believe that the city “goofed” in allowing the skate pool to be built in a residential neighborhood. They believe the use belongs in a commercial zone.

“The city should be looking out for its citizens and it’s not,” said Weinzetl, whose number one concern is noise, followed by traffic and potential damage to their property values.

Construction broke ground on Feb. 18 on what Weinzetl assumed was a swimming pool. Quinn was speaking with the contractors on March 16 when he found out that it was not a swimming pool and would be used for skateboarding. They immediately contacted the city about their concerns, particularly that none of the neighboring residents were notified about the skate pool.

The pool is two feet away from Weinzetl’s wood fence and he said the wood slats provide no barrier for noise. In addition to noise, he is also concerned about lighting at night and the fact that there will be no regulations about time of use.

“The neighborly thing to do would have been to go to each one of us who would be affected,” Quinn said. “It’s always been so quiet …This is a quality of life issue.”

“We just don’t need this at this point of time in our lives,” Weinzetl said of himself and other seniors in the neighborhood. “He doesn’t need to build a skate park in his backyard when we live in a municipality like we do and our homes are close together like we are.”

The project was completed on April 7 and Brenda Wisneski, the city’s development services director, said that all of the necessary permits were acquired by the homeowner. The skate pool is a permitted residential use—she said the only way it would not be consistent with a neighborhood recreation activity would be if they were selling tickets and treating it as a commercial business use.

“Skate pools are not common but we’ve certainly had situations were some type of hardscape ramp is built in a backyard,” Wisneski said.

Wooden skateboarding ramps, which are not considered permanent structures, do not require a permit.

Wisneski said there are no requirements for notifying neighbors as it is considered basically a hardscape project for backyard recreation. The homeowner’s use would be no different than swimming in a pool or hosting a birthday party.

The city does have a noise ordinance and Wisneski said if there are complaints that the noise is in excess, it would be investigated. “I would hope that the neighbors are courteous,” she said.

Kyle Berard, of Front Rock Enterprises, the contractor for the project, said he was aware of the neighbors’ concerns as the police were called twice over the course of their work. He said he has done a few projects in Encinitas but has never run into a problem like this.

“It’s not a public skate park… it’s simply a full backyard remodel with functional elements for our client and his kids to skate around on,” Berard said. “The homeowner and his kids are avid skateboarders and wanted to place to skate if they can’t make it to the skate park.”

Berard, a retired professional skateboarder who turned pro when he was 15 years old, has been building projects like this since 2014. He started Front Rock to blend traditional hardscape features with skate park elements within the residential setting.

He believes that the noise of people swimming in a pool filled with water would be much louder than a dad and his kids slowly rolling around on skateboards. As far as impacting property values, Berard said he believes the yard renovation is an upgrade and reinforcing the yard’s retaining wall made the home safer.

Berard said while he would love to think he built something that will draw big crowds and a traffic jam that was not the intent of the project.

“Instead of getting off work and grabbing the kids and rushing to hit the skate park, with our projects you can head home and take a couple of runs on a smaller and safer environment,” Berard said. “That’s the idea at least.”

As the work wrapped last weekend, Berard said he got the chance to skate with his client and the kids and it was “smiles all around.”

“It’s unfortunate, but hopefully everything will settle down now that we’re gone and they realize that it’s not professionals that will be using it,” Berard said. “We didn’t build the X-Games back there, just a few functional features to skate.”

Weinzetl said he and his neighbor are not on speaking terms and he hasn’t spoken to him directly about the skate project. Quinn and Weinzetl said they have tried to speak to city staff and believe they are being “stonewalled” as two meetings scheduled with the mayor this month have been cancelled.

They plan to address the issue to the Encinitas City Council at its April 17 meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.

“I think it’s great that kids can do something outside,” Quinn said. “But not in my backyard.”

Update below—posted April 18:

Complaints made to council regarding Encinitas residential ‘skate pool’

By Michael J. Williams

Two neighbors of an Encinitas residence where a skateboarding bowl recently was built complained about the installation to the City Council on Wednesday, April 17.

Village Park residents Ken Weinzetl and Michael Quinn contend the city made a mistake in permitting the structure, referred to as a “skate pool,” in their neighborhood. Their primary complaint is what they contend is the din emanating from the property.

“The noise is incredible,” Quinn said. “I spent 40 years beautifying my backyard. It’s an oasis and now it’s ruined.”

While city planning officials say the structure is a permitted use, Weinzetl protested that there is no indication it is allowed in the city’s regulations.

“I could not find any reference or description of a skateboard pool anywhere,” he said.

Because Weinzetl’s and Quinn’s comments came during the council’s oral communications segment and did not occur in response to an agenda item, the council members could not legally respond to the concerns.

City Manager Karen Brust said she would schedule a discussion with the complainants.