Jack Pollock
CHANGING TUNES When skateboarding took off as a sport 30 years ago, it began with rebellious teens lured by its free flowing, no-rules lifestyle. With above-the-rim aerial stunts, it seemed they were even trying to mock gravity--as if rebellion was part of the skateboarders' DNA. When riding half-pipes became too fashionable in the early '80s, the true skaters junked it for street riding.

But, like rock 'n' roll, hiphop, and snowboarding, perhaps it was inevitable that skateboarding would be simplified, codified, and ultimately tamed by the very authority figures against whom early skaters were originally rebelling.

In a measure of exactly how mainstream the sport has become, last Friday the city government hosted its first-ever "skateboard summit." Held downtown at the DoubleTree Hotel, the conference was complete with charts, reports, surveys, and even police representatives talking about the win-win solutions offered by city-sponsored skate parks.

Portland has a bipolar history with skaters, attempting to curtail their culture while simultaneously encouraging the sport in designated areas. Last year, voters approved a property tax to raise funds for the ailing parks and rec bureau; $500,000 was earmarked for building skate parks. In part, the conference was intended to figure out where to place those parks.

On Friday, city council member Jim Francesconi, who oversees the city's parks and rec bureau, stood in front of the conference and pledged his support for helping skateboarders. He also urged members of once-rebellious skate culture to build "coalitions."

Three years ago, however, in a hotly contested 3-2 vote, city council lifted a longstanding ban against skateboarding downtown. Mayor Vera Katz and Francesconi were the two opposed to removing the ban. PHIL BUSSE

TOW THIS! On Wednesday, city council is scheduled to consider regulations on towing companies. Currently, tow companies in town can do pretty much what they want. Under the proposed regulations, fees would be limited to $160 for removing a car from private property. In addition, tow companies would be banned from "predator towing," where they lurk around lots. The session is expected to be rambunctious. City Council Chambers, 1221 SW 4th, Wed Dec 17, 6 pm