Skaters may face bigger fines

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An ordinance that would increase fines for skateboarders and others who ride in prohibited areas is one step closer to adoption.

Steamboat Springs City Council members voted unanimously Tuesday night to approve the first reading of an ordinance introducing a graduated-fee schedule for offenders riding where they aren't allowed. The ordinance, which would replace a flat fee of $10 per offense, must go through a second reading before it becomes a regulation.

The council:

Tabled two important discussions: an affordable housing-related ordinance reading and the Harbor Hotel redevelopment project pre-application discussion.

Heard, with county commissioners, a report from the Growth Management Advisory Group. Council members and commissioners agreed to accept the

Agreed to contribute $15,000 to the Olympic Send-Off, as council members decided in their budget hearing this fall. Council members agreed on Tuesday that some of that money should go toward fee waivers.

Approved an ordinance that revised the definition of "office" to include real estate offices. Offices cannot be located along a pedestrian level street or other public access frontage in certain zoning districts, unless they go through a conditional use review process.

Denied approval of an ordinance that would have replaced the Board of Adjustment with an administrative hearings officer. Some council members said that they preferred the board because it promotes a democratic process.

Supported appropriation of $42,500 to finalize payment due to a company involved with completing the Howelsen Hill jump project.

If approved, the ordinance would set fines at $25 for the first offense, $50 for the second offense and $75 for third and subsequent offenses. The changes are meant to discourage repeat offenses.

Council member Loui An----tonucci said he wanted to see the continuation of warnings instead of jumping into a $25 fine for the first offense.

"I can understand some of the police department's issues with repeat offenders," Antonucci said, but he still wanted to see the possibility of warnings.

Council member Paul Strong said he met with police officials as well as people who use some of the vehicles listed in the ordinance. Strong said police told him that they do not necessarily ticket every offender they see.

"They've got to be doing something dangerous and flagrant to get a ticket in the first place," Strong said.

After hearing Strong's comments, Antonucci said he was willing to approve the ordinance.

"I'm willing to give it a shot because we can always go back and change it," he said.

People are not supposed to ride a variety of vehicles within a boundary of city sidewalks, including skateboards, bicycles, roller skates, in-line skates, toy vehicles, kamikazi boards, go-peds, stand-up scooters and ski skates. The boundary for this regulation is defined by Oak Street on the north, Yampa Avenue on the south, Third Street on the east and 13th Street on the west.

None of the above vehicles, except bicycles, are allowed on Elk River Road or U.S. Highway 40, including Lincoln Avenue, because of state law. The ordinance also states that no one can ride toy vehicles, kamikazi boards, go-peds or stand-up scooters on any public roadway within the city.

The council also unanimously approved the first reading of an ordinance that amends the city's traffic code. The amendment, if approved, will exempt city streets from a state law that prohibits the use of many vehicles on streets. The amendment would allow some people, such as skateboarders and skaters, to ride on city streets.

In other business, council mem--bers discussed the West Steamboat Springs Area Plan with Routt County commissioners. Officials of----fered few changes. They also did not complete a review of the draft plan update, so issues such as affordable housing were not addressed.

The draft offers proposed changes to the plan, which was adopted in 1999. Planners made the draft more flexible with hopes of luring development proposals.

The draft also addresses the newer communitywide plan, and it includes lower affordable housing percentage requirements.

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229

or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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