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Tougher penalties may be on the way for skateboarding vandals

Skateboarding vandals beware.

City Council voted to amend a bill that would expand the city's ban on skateboarding, biking and rollerblading on certain types of public property and would increase penalties. The bill could be passed as early as next week.

The bill introduced by Councilman David Oh on behalf of the Nutter administration was tabled in October after a group of skateboarders argued the bill lacked clarity as to what and where they could skateboard. Under the bill violators would face up to a $1,000 fine and the possibility of 30 days in jail. Oh reduced the penalties after concerns from the skateboarding community and some Council members.

But Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell urged her colleagues to oppose the measure.

"It's unconscionable, unbelievable and its not the business of this Council," Blackwell said. "It sends the wrong message to people who visit our city."

The city has said vandals have caused thousands of dollars in damage to various memorials and public artwork.

"It is not a violation to ride a skateboard," Oh said. "The community, police and artists have spoken to me and others and they are very frustrated with those who damage and continue to damage."