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Neighbors' dispute leads to new backyard skateboard ramp rule in Vista

A dispute between neighbors has led to a new regulation for backyard skateboard ramps in Vista. KPBS North County reporter Alexander Nguyen talks to neighbors involved and why they say it was needed.

A dispute between neighbors has led to a new regulation for backyard skateboard ramps in Vista.

The Vista City Council unanimously approved an update to the city's code on Feb. 14, requiring residents who want to build a skateboard ramp higher than 6 feet to apply for a use permit. The permit will cost $3,345 and it will also specify that the ramps can only be used between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. Use for special events will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

In addition, the city's planning commission will consider soundproofing, screening, landscaping and other issues when reviewing the application.


Vista Deputy Mayor Corinna Contreras said she voted in favor of the ordinance to give neighbors a peace of mind and ensure accountability on ramp owners when applicable.

"With such a large structure and a variety of folks coming over to utilize the structure, at some point, there needs to be some kind of a check," she said. "That's where the municipal code comes in."

This started after neighbors complained about Evandro Menezes' 12-foot ramp in his backyard. Menezes said he's had it for more than10 years without a problem until some new neighbors moved in. They were fine with the ramp initially, Menezes said.

"We always try to accommodate the time used to skate, to not interrupt them — to do anything in their yard noise-wise," he said. "And for some reason, in the last three or four months, it just flipped. I don't know what happened."

His next-door neighbor, Tony Hutchinson, said the ramp is "absurdly large," with a never-ending parade of skaters using it day and night, and it's gotten worse over the last two years.


"Seeing it tower over my private backyard is absurd — his use of it is absurd," he told the council in the Feb. 14 meeting. "The noise is absurd. The nonstop skating from breakfast to past dark is absurd."

Other neighbors on the block said the problems have been bubbling up for years. Tom Payne lives in the house diagonally behind Menezes' backyard, and said the noise — whenever Menezes hosts an event — is deafening.

"The noises that were being generated between their amplified sound system and all the skaters going and making all this horrible noise, it's very loud," Payne said. "You may not think it is, but when you get, like, six or seven of them going ... and yelling and hollering — excited when they land a big jump or something, it gets very noisy."

Menezes denies all this, saying the ramp is only in-use for a few hours a day and never after dark. Some neighbors, such as Elizabeth Shahbazi, who moved in five months ago, said the noise doesn’t bother them.

“They use it sporadically, like maybe a few times a day, but it never goes on for an hour or hours," she said. "It's like if you have children, and they're playing in the yard or me outside feeding the dogs and feeding the birds and making my own noises."

While the Vista City Council prefer neighbors to settle disputes amongst themselves, the issue brought forth some shortcomings in the city codes, Contreras said.

“We're not just looking at this instance, but what this instance could become in the future," she said. "Is there going to be a proliferation of skate ramps? How is that going to affect our residents here in Vista?”

The updated code goes into effect next month. Those with existing ramps greater than 6 feet have a year to apply for the permit. Those applying within 90 days will have their permit fees waived.

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