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August 8th, 2012 MARTY SMITH | Dr. Know
 

Dr. Know: Boarding, Blading Ban BS

Can Freddy’s ban skateboarding on public sidewalks?

drknowILLUSTRATION: Hawk Krall

The Hawthorne Fred Meyer has signs posted outside along the sidewalks, “No skateboarding or rollerblading.” Does Freddy’s really have dominion over the public sidewalks adjacent to its property? 

—Blade Runner

Before I begin: Remember Saturday? Hottest day of the year? Somehow, I caught a bad cold that day. (God will be hearing from my lawyers.) Now my brain is boiling like the fevered brow of Trotsky, so pardon me if I bust this out quickly, before the mole-demons come.

I know well the signs whereof you speak, B.R. Pretty convincing, no? Most folks who see them would probably assume they were put there by Fred’s (if not the city) to remind folks of an existing anti-skate ordinance in that neighborhood. But is that true?

In a word, no. The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s Dan Anderson was only too happy to throw Fred’s under the bus: “These signs appear to be privately installed and not official signs.” In other words, they’re approximately as legally binding as those ones that say, “Italian Parking Only: You Take-a My Space, I Break-a You Face.”

Anderson added that, while there are areas in the city where skateboarding is prohibited outright, and others where it’s allowed on the street but not the sidewalk, the Hawthorne location has neither rule. It may not be considerate to skate there, but it’s legal.

While it’s always possible there’s more to the story—Fred Meyer corporate HQ did not immediately return calls requesting comment—at this point, it appears that Oregon’s favorite retailer is busted. I repeat: busted!

Obviously, no one is more surprised than I am to see something approaching investigative journalism in this space. Still, even a blind hog finds an acorn once in a while. You alert the Pulitzer committee; I’ll start scraping the cat vomit off my awards tux.

 
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