By Steve Rodriguez
It’s time for San Diego leaders and the local community of Linda Vista to pursue an important distinction. A narrow window of opportunity is currently open to “skate” down that path and claim national (and maybe even world) fame.
In an attempt to maximize tax revenue, San Diego’s city government originally planned to close Linda Vista’s popular Skateworld roller skating rink and have a developer replace the city-owned property with a Target store. This plan would have enabled Linda Vista to brag that it hosted one of 1,800 Target stores in the country. Fortunately, that original plan has been put on hold. Local residents protested this plan, arguing in favor of retaining the skating rink (as a valued part of Linda Vista history and a fun family-oriented business), while choosing to reject the dubious bragging rights associated with being 1 of 1,800.
In April, San Diego City Council members listened to these protests, and voted to once again open up the bidding process for the property, thus giving another opportunity for Skateworld to stay in business. I am hopeful for Skateworld’s survival. But why stop at mere survival of a skating venue? What I propose is a far grander ambition for Linda Vista, one that is presently within the grasp of this community—that of being the Skating Capital of the United States.
Terms like gentrification and densification bring a chill to the hearts of those area residents who yearn for a time when San Diego communities were less crowded, less expensive, and easier to navigate. However, I boldly suggest the word densification is actually what San Diego leaders should be thinking of when designing an alternate plan for Linda Vista. No, I am not talking about packing in more condos or strip malls. Linda Vista doesn’t need that kind of densification. I’m thinking of densification in a more constructive light.
In the spirit of civic pride and good old-fashioned fun, what I propose is to capitalize on one of Linda Vistas current strengths—skating! Yes, this is the time to praise Skateworld, not to bury it. The further densification of skating in Linda Vista could put this community on the map—making it even more of a destination spot for skaters and officially cementing Linda Vista as the U.S. skating mecca.
With Skateworld still open, I believe Linda Vista is just one venue away from being the skating capital of the United States. It is already so close to earning that distinction, for within the space of a mile Linda Vista currently has a popular skating rink (Skateworld) and the largest skateboard park (Linda Vista Skate Park) in California. How many other communities in the U.S can brag about that fact? But that’s apparently not enough to claim fame in this Kardashian celebrity-fueled world. Linda Vista needs one more kind of skating establishment to make its mark. The all-important triple crown of skating can be achieved with the establishment of a Linda Vista ice skating rink!
When researching on the Internet, I discovered no one community claims to be the national skating capital. Sure, there are cities like Portland or Los Angeles that rightly or wrongly claim to be skateboarding capitals. And several cold cities brag of being ice skating capitals. But what these locales lack is skating versatility and density. I am confident that if a Linda Vista ice skating rink were to be built, no other community could boast of having three such different skating venues in such a small geographic area.
Where would this ice skating rink come from? I am sure there are civic minded people or organizations capable of playing a role in building and operating this venue, especially if it operated solely on a seasonal basis. Such a rink already operates at Liberty Station during the holiday season as a fundraising opportunity for Rady Children’s Hospital. Nevertheless, the continued operation of Skateworld remains crucial to little ol’ Linda Vista pursuing the title of Skating Capital of the U.S. (and maybe the world).
If need be, let’s forget about the word densification and all of its negative connotations, and start using the word skateification to describe what needs to be done to put Linda Vista on the map!
Steve Rodriguez is a retired Marine Corps officer and high school teacher who last taught at Olympian High School in Chula Vista.
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