Most afternoons, teens and young children can be found at Lodi's skate park on Ham Lane.
To ride at the park, the city requires skaters to wear a helmet, knee and elbow pads and have a $1 permit.
One 11-year-old boy had his permit and helmet but had balked at elbow pads.
"You're not going to fall on your elbow and kill yourself," he said Wednesday.
But by not wearing the pads, he risks a $163.75 ticket.
Some youths at the park didn't have the required permit, which would be another citation. And riding a bicycle on the ramps would be yet another fine.
"Instead of skating all over town, we come here - and get in trouble anyway," said Joe Viel, 16, who skateboards in the park daily.
In the past year, officers have issued 123 citations for violations at the skate park, according to numbers provided by Lodi police. The exact breakdown of tickets was not available, but if each ticket was for a single violation carrying the standard $163.75 fine, that means skateboarders have spent a combined $20,141 in tickets this year.
And that doesn't count late fees of about $300, which happened to 20-year-old Cesar Martinez, of Stockton. He went to court Tuesday and was ordered to pay a total of $900 for two tickets, one for not having a permit and one for no helmet plus late fees, according to his mother, Sandra Martinez.
"They want kids to get off the streets and skate in the skate parks, and yet they're taking money away from them that they don't even have," she said.
The actual penalty is $50, which was set by local attorneys and judges after the ordinance went into effect several years ago. But once various court and state fees are tacked on - which happens for all citations ranging from seat belt violations to speeding - the total more than triples.
When all is said and done, the city gets a bit less than $41 per ticket, said Camey Joerke, court manager for the Lodi branch of San Joaquin County Superior Court. The money goes back into the city's General Fund to help offset things like officer pay to issue the citations and insurance for the skate park.
• $9 to San Joaquin County
• $16.25 to courthouse construction fund
• $10 for criminal fine surcharge
• $11.25 to criminal justice facility fund
• $5 to DNA protection act
• $5 to DNA identification fund
• $5 to emergency medical fund
• $2.50 to fingerprint ID fund
• $50 to state assessment fund
• $8.75 to state court facility construction fund
Source: San Joaquin County Superior Court.
• Smell of marijuana coming from the nearby bathrooms
• People riding bicycles without helmets
• Juveniles using loud remote control cars
• Youths smoking marijuana in the parking lot
• Juveniles looking into vehicles
• Three girls drinking beer
• Two male skateboarders involved in a fight
• Bicycle vandalized
Source: Lodi Police Department.
To see the city ordinance, go online to http://www.bpcnet.com/codes/lodi/ and click on Chapter 12.
Martinez said it would make a lot more sense to simply have large "skate at your own risk" signs.
But under state law, skateboarding is deemed a "hazardous recreational activity" and skate park operators must require helmets, knee pads and elbow pads, said Deputy City Attorney Janice Magdich. If the skate park is owned by a city, the state requirement may be met by enacting a local ordinance and posting signs notifying users of the rules, she said.
The $1 permits are required so that skateboarders or their parents sign a paper acknowledging that they waive their rights, Magdich said. The waiver allowed the city to get insurance for the skate park, she added.
Plenty of youths at the city's skate park thought worry about lawsuits was ridiculous.
Yet it does happen: The city is currently dealing with a lawsuit filed after a child fell off monkey bars at a public park and broke an arm, Magdich said.
Plenty of health officials bemoan the ever-increasing problem of childhood obesity, but none of at least a dozen youths at the skate park Wednesday appeared to have such a problem. After all, they were skating up ramps, jumping out of the way when their skateboards went off track and generally burning a lot of calories.
But only one was wearing proper safety equipment, as listed on a sign of requirements posted at the park's entrance.
Isabella Thompson, 6, had her red hair tucked inside a gray helmet, and wore matching knee and elbow pads.
"Every day we're coming home from school and she says she wants to bring her bike here," her father, Dan Thompson, said.
Since bicycles aren't allowed and her dad had heard about the pricey tickets for violating the rules, Isabella has to make do with a skateboard.