In response to the continued rise in illegal street racing in the state, the California State Assembly passed Assembly Bill (AB) 2000, which will prohibit street racing and sideshows from occurring in parking lots across the state.
The measure, authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel (D – Woodland Hills), aims to crack down on dangerous driving—including street racing, “sideshows,” and street takeovers—which continue to cause injuries and fatalities across California.
Illegal street racing has been a constant problem in the San Fernando Valley and other areas of Southern California.
A recent example occurred on May 6, when roughly 150 people were gathered at Roscoe Boulevard and Coldwater Canyon Avenue in Sun Valley to watch illegal racing, according to the Los Angeles Police Department.
Investigators, who arrived at around 9:30 p.m., estimated that 60 drivers were racing and drifting in the intersection before scattering when officers first responded to the scene. At least eight cars were stranded; some drivers ditched their vehicles and fled from officers, or hopped into other vehicles. At least 15 people were detained, and some were cited for being within 200 feet of the sideshow.
That same evening in Granada Hills, at approximately 11:30 p.m., police impounded nearly 20 cars. They said 20 people were cited, while four people were arrested.
According to police, those caught at the illegal events — including spectators — could face misdemeanor charges and fines up to $1,000.
A task force aimed at curbing street racing in the West San Fernando Valley has issued 217 citations since it was funded in January by the Los Angeles City Council at the bequest of Councilmember Bob Blumenfield.
The task force is part of the Los Angeles Police Department Valley Traffic Division. It was funded for five months, and among the areas it has targeted Vanalden Avenue, from Gleneagles Drive to Ventura Boulevard, Valley Circle Boulevard and Victory Boulevard.
Across the state, COVID-19 is considered responsible for a sharp rise in illegal street racing activity as drivers took advantage of roads emptied by stay-at-home orders. In 2020, the California Highway Patrol responded to more than 25,000 calls involving illegal street racing activity statewide, an alarming increase of more than 3,500 calls from the year before.
“Far too frequently, street racing and illegal sideshows devastate families, harm innocent bystanders, and cut short young lives,” said Gabriel. “Communities in the San Fernando Valley and across California are sick and tired of this reckless behavior. This bipartisan legislation will crack down on dangerous activity and help to save lives.”
Statewide law enforcement groups have identified driver’s license suspensions as an effective tool for deterrence of illegal street racing activity. Expanding on AB 3, which was signed into law last year, AB 2000 allows courts to issue a driver’s license suspension for the exhibition of motor vehicle speed during a sideshow taking place in a parking lot—an area not currently covered under law—and thereby helps to further deter individuals from engaging in these dangerous activities.
“AB 2000 will help us save lives, and prevent further crashes and drivers going to prison for manslaughter,” said Lili Trujillo, founder and executive director of Street Racing Kills, a nonprofit created in 2014 after Trujillo’s 16-year-old daughter, Valentina, was killed in a street racing incident. “An exhibition of speed in a parking lot is way too common now and people are being hurt and killed.”
AB 2000 now moves to the Senate, where it is expected to be heard in policy committee in the coming weeks.