The City Council of Long Beach voted on a motion to pass an ordinance amending the vehicle code in July of 2021.
In a letter sent to Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, it was revealed that dozens of spectators took over the intersection of Stearns Street and Bellflower Boulevard. The City Council voted to implement measures aimed to discourage participation in illegal street takeovers because of the hazardous environment for many bystanders and neighborhoods.
According to Long Beach City Prosecutor, Doug Haubert, street racing has been around for several years, though there was no policy in place that discouraged participation in such events. With the influx of social media platforms, attendance at these street takeover events has increased.
According to the Long Beach Police Department, officers would routinely work with the California Highway Patrol and the Los Angeles County Regional Task Force to enforce California vehicle codes.
Spectators learn of meetups and locations through various platforms. While the ordinance does not address social media specifically, members of the community have shared information with police, increasing awareness of local events.
“The use of social media has made it very difficult for law enforcement to prevent large groups from gathering for street racing. Street racing can become deadly, as we saw in Burbank last year. We want to prevent that from happening in Long Beach,” Haubert said.
Chapter 10.82 of the California Vehicle code, which relates to the prohibition of spectators at street takeovers, would target any person who is present at a street race, sideshow, or reckless driving exhibition conducted on a public street or highway or in an off-street parking facility with a misdemeanor. This would also include the preparation on any public street, highway, or parking facility for any such illegal street race. However, the determination of any violation would be left up to the City Prosecutor’s Office.
The three main goals of the ordinance for police would provide officers with necessary measures to deter participation, ensure Long Beach is no longer targeted due to lenient or non-existent policy, and take preventative action to reduce possible injury or fatality.
“If you are going to race, don’t do it in Long Beach,” Haubert said.
Beyond the physical injuries, often leading to significant property damage, many of these events cost uninvolved community members and the community in general, thousands of dollars.
By Carter Williams II
Photo credit: Howard Blau Law Firm