St. Paul to ban BASE jumpers

The city of St. Paul proposed an ordinance to ban BASE jumping within city limits.

by James Nord

There is currently no law against jumping off a building with a parachute in St. Paul. That might end soon however, depending on the outcome of a proposed ordinance that is making its way through the St. Paul City Council. Police put forward the ordinance because there is no law prohibiting BASE, or Building, Antenna, Span, Earth, jumping in St. Paul. It would make âÄúclimbing, jumping or suspending oneself from structures,âÄù a misdemeanor, according to the language of the ordinance. âÄúThereâÄôs no specific prohibition against [BASE jumping], and of course, could somebody be charged with something else? Probably,âÄù said City Council President Kathy Lantry , who presented the ordinance. âÄúHowever, itâÄôs always easier to prosecute something there is a direct prohibition of.âÄù BASE jumping is illegal in Minneapolis, and the city has made arrests in the past. St. Paul police arrested two men carrying parachutes on a bridge in 2008 after they told police they planned to jump, Lantry said. Lantry and councilman Dave Thune said they donâÄôt think there will be a public outcry over the ordinance. âÄúIs there a BASE jumping community thatâÄôs going to come in and say, âÄòyou need to let me do really unsafe behavior without permission in your cityâÄô? I donâÄôt think so,âÄù Lantry said. The council discussed the ordinance Wednesday, and there will be a public hearing on Nov. 4. They will vote on the ordinance Nov. 11. Safety, cost and liability reduction are the three main reasons behind the ordinance. âÄúI canâÄôt think of many more dangerous activities than having some goofball without permission jumping off the top of a tall building into a downtown area,âÄù Lantry said. Without an ordinance, the city would be required to rescue any jumpers whose attempts went awry, and to deal with any problems that might arise. However, students from the University of Minnesota skydiving club oppose the ordinance, they said. âÄúIf you have an apartment on the fiftieth floor of some building and you own that apartment, and youâÄôre not trespassing, and your apartment has a balcony and you want to jump off of it and you have the ability to do so, I think you should be able to do it,âÄù skydiving club president Zabrina Evans said. Evans said that the jumper should be responsible for any damage they might incur and club member Ilan Sagiv stressed that skydiving and BASE jumping are very different âÄî skydiving is statistically safer. He said that BASE jumping often gives skydiving a bad name. Evans laughed at the thought of unwary civilians being hurt by a rogue BASE-jumper. âÄúAs far as [danger] to other people, the likelihood of you walking down the street and having a BASE jumper fall on you under their canopy is so rare itâÄôs laughable,âÄù Evans said. âÄúIâÄôd be much more concerned about getting in a car accident on my way to work.âÄù