Rollerskating enthusiasts who don't want to see a landmark skating rink in the heart of Linda Vista turn to a big-box retail store rallied Monday evening to try and save it.
The ever-popular rink Skateworld has been hanging in the balance since Civic San Diego, a city-owned non-profit that guides neighborhood planning and development, decided to sell the property.
The husband and wife who run the rink say Civic San Diego opened a "shady" and secretive bidding process that didn't include them, and the people who have been rolling on the rink's historic wooden floors for more than 40 years are upset they weren't included either.
Civic San Diego awarded a development company called Pacifica the bid to buy the property. Current owner Brett Stang says Pacifica intends to build a big box store on it.
"It has been very shady,” Stang said of Civic San Diego’s bidding process. “They took some bids, they weren't sharing at all who was bidding or what the prices were.”
The San Diego City Council was scheduled to vote March 18 to decide if the sale would go through, or if bidding should be reopened to investors. That vote was delayed until April, which will give skaters more time to spread their message.
"Skateworld keeps San Diego Rolling!"
Linda Vista native Sharon Larios grew up skating at Skateworld and she credits it for saving her brother's life
"in a poor neighborhood like this, one of the symptoms of poverty is gangs out here and so him being involved in all that stuff, Skateworld was a safe space for him to be a kid and disconnect from all that."
The group Save Skateworld is growing rapidly, and its voice is becoming louder. Organizer Natalie Ven and her team wrote a letter to the City Monday demanding to know why the community has been left out of Civic San Diego's process.
"We want the district attorney to do a clear analysis with information that is accessible to the public," the letter said.
Stang says Skateworld has been family owned for 44 years, and said the space has been rented month-to-month for the last 17 years. It’s the only wooden skating rink left in San Diego.
Vice President of the Linda Vista Town Council, Blake Hofstad, said the council also wasn’t aware Civic San Diego was taking bids until after bidding closed.
"No, we were not informed by Civic San Diego that it was accepting bids,” Hofstad said. “On August 9 (2018), the town council became aware only after a community leader, on behalf of an investor, reached out to Civic San Diego about the property. We found out the deadline for bids expired in June."
Skateworld's investors put together their own late bid of over $5 million, which Stang said is right in line with Pacifica's and is one of the top three. That bid still stands, but now only the City Council can say whether or not it’s too late for Skateworld.
A Change.org petition is making the rounds on social media.