SAN DIEGO -- It’s the only wooden skating rink left in San Diego, something locals say should remain for generations to come, so rollerskating enthusiasts and community activists rallied Sunday in a last-ditch effort to save it.
The San Diego City Council is expected to hear a report and approve the sale of Skateworld on Monday. A company called Pacifica won a bid and intends to buy the property and turn it into a big box store.
But supporters of the rink say they’re not going down without a fight. People of all ages gathered in the heart of Linda Vista and waved signs in support of Skateworld across the street Sunday.
“They want to change it to a big box store, and I just think there’s so many in San Diego and there’s only one wooden roller rink here. That’s Skateworld,” said Linda Vista resident, Mia Custer.
The rink has been hanging in the balance since Civic San Diego, a city-owned nonprofit, decided to open bids to sell the property.
Those who rallied say the nonprofit opened a secretive bidding process that didn't include the community. “Money cannot replace what this building means to us,” said longtime resident Margarita Castro.
Linda Vista resident and community activist Sharon Larios says residents should have been allowed more input. “One of the symptoms of being in a poor neighborhood is that there’s gangs in here," she said. "A lot of people don’t understand that we are very poor, we’re very under-resourced and very underserved here in Linda Vista. Skateworld is one of the only safe spaces that we do have for kids to actually be kids."
She says Skateworld -- which has been family owned for 44 years -- is one of the only safe recreational places in the community for youth to enjoy. As a longtime resident she and others aren't going to let it go without a fight.
“Those safe spaces need to be preserved in communities of color, so that we actually have a chance to let our kids be kids. If we continue to take away these safe spaces we’re not going to have anywhere to go,” Larios said.
The San Diego City Council will decide Monday if the sale to Pacifica will go through, or if bidding should be reopened to other investors. Residents say at the very least they want the bidding to reopen.