Pratyush Shukla, Editorial Intern
On June 21, Harbor City residents and skaters celebrated the grand opening of their community’s first skatepark alongside Assemblyman Al Muratsuchi, Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, representatives from the City Lights Gateway Foundation and members of the CA$H skate team.
The 11,000-square-foot skate park includes a transition-style terrain, on which skateboarders travel from the ground to a ramp or other incline to perform stunts. The skate park also has obstacles to satisfy a full spectrum of skater-skill levels. Skaters from Oregon, San Diego and many other places were present at the ceremony, ready to ride the rails and kickflip over staircases.
Emilio Otero and Armando Micro II, two 20-year-old Harbor City skaters of the CA$H skate team, have been dreaming of a local skate park since they were in the seventh grade.
The fight for the skate park was worth it.
“I wanted to keep kids off the street [and] to give someone a place to come skate and make friends,” Otero said. “Evening and night time isn’t that safe to skate around here.”
“It has been a fight,” Micro said.
He designs and makes CA$H merchandise — clothes, hats — that produce profits for upgrades around the park.
Since they were 13, Otero and Micro have dreamt of a skate park in their hometown but did not know the process until they connected with the City Lights Foundation.
Being so young, the skaters struggled to find anyone willing to listen to them.
“When I heard Emilio and, you know the CA$H skate crew, I told Scott and Tim, and they got the ball rolling,” said City Lights Foundation member Daniel Marin, one of the first advocates for the skate park.
Tim Tucker and Howard Scott Jr., founders of City Lights Gateway Foundation, were the first to understand their vision and help navigate Otero and Micro to the next step.
“They’ve helped us; they got us connections; they networked us; they got us on the right path to do the right thing,” Otero said.
Buscaino said as much during his remarks at the grand opening.
“Tim and Scott brought the CA$H skate crew to my office and said we want to partner with you to achieve this skate park and I said yes,” he said
“What we were looking for was to find these young kids a ‘Local 13,’ something to unite them enough that it doesn’t matter where they were from,’’ said Scott during an interview.
Los Angeles Department of Parks and Recreations contributed $350,000 for the skate park. An icing on the cake: the cause received $400,000 from an anonymous donor.
A blueprint was decided upon –– after much editing and revising –– by the CA$H team. Spohn Ranch Co. constructed the skatepark.
“We had no input,” Marin said. “It was all sketched and designed by Emilio and his friends.”
Muratsuchi had some kind words for Otero.
“Emilio is a walking example of what difference you can make in your community, in your neighborhood, when you get involved,” he said