The west steps of the State Capitol were abuzz with skateboarders on April 6, but it wasn't a sign of kids enjoying their spring break. Instead it was Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen and those interesting in getting a feet-on demonstration of electronic skateboards.
Olsen spearheaded the demonstration event to drum up interest and support for Assembly Bill 604, which she is introducing with a number of bipartisan co-authors that would legalize the electronically motorized skateboards.
Olsen discovered electronic skateboards during a tour in her home district where she came across Intuitive Motion, a Riverbank-based company run by two University of Southern California graduates who created the board as their senior Engineering design project.
"As they began selling these boards all over the world they discovered that right here in their home of California, the state of innovation, they are actually prohibited by law," said Olsen
The ban of electronic skateboards was instated in 1977 to prevent the noise and air pollution that was caused by the skateboards which were predominantly gas powered at the time. Olsen is now eager to update the law to reflect the significant technological advancements that have occurred since the ban was put in place decades ago.
"It makes no sense that an environmentally-conscious product that is designed and assembled in our state cannot be legally operated here," said Olsen. "AB 604 simply seeks to modernize California law so this industry can grow and provide more jobs and convenient transportation options for short commutes."
Intuitive Motion, who created the Z-Board, has taken steps to be an addition to the local economy by employing several individuals to manufacture the boards which are created using locally sourced sheet metal components from Prompt Precision Manufacturing on Whitmore Avenue in Ceres.
"We're really excited about some of the longer term significance of the bill because as this fast-growing industry develops, which it already has exponentially in the past two to three years, it's nice to have a frame work to work within as far as where and how you can ride as these boards become integrated into society," said Geoff Larson, co-founder of Z-Board.
Legislators, kids and community members also gave Boosted Boards, which are remote control electronic skateboards, a spin at the Capitol. Boosted Boards had a similar start as Z-Boards, which launched in 2012 both through Kick Starter, a crowd fundraising mechanism online. With several other electronic skateboard startups in California, Larson said the companies have teamed up to support the legislation which could have a significant impact on the boards in years to come.
"We've all banded together to support this legislation because it helps all of us and it helps the future industries that will spin off of this as well," said Larson.
AB 604 was heard in the Assembly Transportation Committee.