The fight against California’s skateboard ban

We want to make sure that California remains the center of innovation, says state Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto). It’s ironic that while we’re the state that applauds innovative technologies, we have a law on the books that prohibits the electrically­ motorized industry from growing.

In this ReasonTV video, Rep. Olsen is working on Assembly Bill 2054 which would legalize electric skateboards in California. In the 1970s, the Golden State banned electric skateboards because they were heavy polluters, and that prohibition remains intact today. But like most other technologies, electric skateboards have evolved.

It’s a really telling sign that the person who wrote this bill, I think, is in their 80s now, says co-founder of Intuitive Motion Ben Forman. Forman says his product, ZBoard, is much better for the environment than the early gas-powered boards. [We are] purely electric. We have zero tail pipe emissions, we use regenerative braking, we use highly efficient motors and batteries.

Forman first approached Olsen about the issue because the law was hurting his business.

The real reason we are pursuing this is that it is potentially putting a ceiling on our market, a ceiling on our business, a ceiling on how many boards we can build, a ceiling on how many square feet we can rent, how many people we can hire, Forman says.

Olsen had planned to introduce the bill in early 2014, and really didn’t face any political opposition after dedicating time to educate lawmakers about the issue. But the snail’s pace of the political process is holding things up.

We discovered as we were working on AB 2054 in the legislative process, that there are a lot of technical challenges that need to be fixed to make sure that it’s consistent with other parts of the vehicle code, and that the language is being written concisely enough, says Olsen.

So the ban remains. However, Olsen and Forman are optimistic, and they plan to reintroduce the bill.