June 2 2014 12:00 AM

Lorie Zapf elbows her way into skate-park camera opportunity in District 2; aide goofs in explaining why

From left to right, Zapf, Faulconer and Hawk
Screenshot from CityTV 24

Nobody blames a candidate for wanting to win, but have we abandoned all decorum for the sake of a little extra camera time? Maybe so. ---

Last Wednesday, local TV Channel 6 (aka "The CW") ran an "exclusive" story, headlined "Vandalism requires costly repairs to Mission Bay bridge." Seems that someone snipped out portions of the aluminum-wire screening-possibly for recycling cash-that runs the length of the 2-year-old Mike Gotch Memorial Bridge, which spans Rose Creek and is popular with Mission Bay runners and bicyclists.

The bridge sits in the northeastern corner of San Diego City Council District 2, but it was the District 6 representative whom the station sought for an on-site interview about the vandalism. Zapf, redistricted into District 2, is running to take that seat vacated when fellow Republican Kevin Faulconer took the mayor's oath. It's currently, and temporarily, occupied by council-appointed Democrat Ed Harris, a longtime city lifeguard.

"'Trying to deface and destroy something that's important to the community and means so much-is really stressful that people would do something like that,' said San Diego Councilwoman Lorie Zapf, whose district includes the bridge," the CW story (emphasis added) initially and erroneously reported.

Zapf, facing a tough election challenge from former federal prosecutor Sarah Boot, never points out in the story that she's standing in another council member's district. But, who else could provide such scintillating observations as "The city has limited funds…. Every time something like this happens we have to spend money fixing it" and "somebody could get injured or hurt"?

The next day, there was Zapf, standing alongside Faulconer, presenting local skateboarding icon and philanthropist Tony Hawk with his own day and a proclamation to commemorate it with young skateboarders and the Ocean Beach Skate Park at Robb Field as a backdrop. Again, in District 2.

Harris issued a terse statement the day after that gathering: "I didn't know about Lorie's event yesterday in my district at the Ocean Beach Skate Park. Her office didn't tell us it was happening, and I wasn't invited."

When social-media queries surfaced questioning Zapf's appearance with the mayor in District 2, Zapf's chief of staff, Job Nelson, took to Twitter to note that the OB skate park is located conveniently close to City Hall and that Hawk had helped finance it.

"[C]lose[est] skate park to downtown for Mayor and LZ that TH helped put money in," Nelson tweeted.

The only problem with that? The city-run OB Skate Park opened in 2000, two years before Hawk established the Tony Hawk Foundation that provides grants for skate parks in low-income communities.

"Tony or [Tony Hawk Foundation] did not contribute to the Robb Field Skatepark," Miki Vuckovich, executive director of the Vista-based foundation, confirmed to CityBeat by email. "It predates the establishment of our organization. Just shows how ahead of the curve San Diego was!"

Byron Wear, a Zapf supporter who was the District 2 council member when the skate park was built and opened, recalled that the park-poised on the fringe of Mission Bay Park on former marshland-benefited from its location by qualifying for hotel-tax funding.

"It was all paid for-$1.5 million, I seem to remember-with [hotel-tax] money," Wear said. "The hotel owners weren't happy, but it's a great addition to Robb Field."

When told what Nelson had tweeted, Wear paused, then hedged, "Well, Tony may not have contributed financially, but he certainly provided promotional value."

The foundation is providing $40,000 each for two planned skate parks in Linda Vista and City Heights, but those communities fall within the council districts of Scott Sherman (District 7) and Marti Emerald (District 9), respectively. Neither took part in the OB event proclaiming "Tony Hawk Day." (Note to Sherman: Hawk, now an Encinitas resident, grew up in D7's Tierrasanta.)

The OB event itself had its awkward moments: Faulconer, claiming a skateboarding youth of his own and invoking "dude" once too often; Zapf telling attendees that her knowledge of Hawk and his skateboarding prowess trumped most because she'd helped one of her daughters write a school report about him; Hawk pronouncing Zapf's name "Zoff" (it's pronounced like "staff"); and Hawk, arms outstretched, thanking "the progressives" on the City Council for the honor.

The foundation executive director would later say it was the first time Hawk had met Zapf. As for the "progressives" remark, Vuckovich quipped, "We're still not used to politicians embracing skateparks. So, they're progressives to us! For sure." 

"There's no politics at the skatepark," he added. "Just skateboarding."

Write to johnl@sdcitybeat.com.


See all events on Friday, Oct 21