For the skateboarders at Robb Field Skate Park in Ocean Beach, the financial crisis gripping the state's second-largest city has meant freedom.
Freedom not to pay $5 to zoom up and down the concrete swells. Freedom not to wear helmets at the risk of cracking their heads. Freedom to smoke while they skate, drink beer, bring dogs, ride minibikes amid the skateboards and scrawl graffiti [...]
"Helmets are bummers," said helmet-less Elliot Hathaway, 22, an employee of a metal-fabricating business.
When he heard that the skate park not only was free but minus supervision, John Wright, 25, a waiter at a Gaslamp District restaurant, rode his bike five miles from his apartment in Pacific Beach.
"I know these rules are for our own good, but rules are just against the whole spirit of skateboarding," he said. "Plus, the whole idea of paying to skateboard is wrong."