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Pico Rivera Will Pass Tough Ordinance to Curtail Street Takeovers

The aggressive ordinance will not only penalize spectators with a $2,000 fine but allow the city to confiscate vehicles involved in street takeovers, with owners potentially forfeiting their vehicles. 

May 10, 2023

By Brian Hews

Pico Rivera has moved forward with an ordinance in an attempt to severely curtail street takeovers in the city by prohibiting and penalizing spectators and participants at illegal motor vehicle speed contests or exhibitions of speed.

The ordinance will also allow law enforcement officers to impound vehicles participating in the illegal activity.

The process began at the February 14, 2023 meeting, when the City Council first directed staff to bring an ordinance before the City Council, exploring options for enforcement, such as citations, vehicle impounding, and law enforcement, for drivers and spectators involved in illegal street takeovers.

Street takeovers are illegal and dangerous events where groups of people gather on public streets to engage in activities such as racing, burnouts, and donuts. These events often involve modified or high-performance vehicles and can pose a significant risk to public safety.

Street takeovers have become a growing problem in California, particularly in cities such as Los Angeles and Oakland. These events have led to property damage, injuries, and even fatalities. In California, street takeovers are illegal and can result in fines, impoundment of vehicles, and even criminal charges. The state has also enacted legislation aimed at preventing and punishing street takeovers, including a law that allows for the impoundment of vehicles used in such events.

In response, law enforcement agencies have increased their efforts to crack down on street takeovers.

Pico Rivera’s ordinance will be more aggressive than California’s current Vehicle Code Section 23109, that makes street takeovers unlawful; the city’s proposed ordinance will implement more aggressive prohibitions and penalties to deter both the racing and the attendance of spectators.

The first reading of the ordinance was introduced during the regularly scheduled City Council meeting on Tuesday, May 9.

The proposed ordinance was introduced by Councilman John R. Garcia. who stated, “This proposed ordinance and enforcement options will provide the City with additional tools to address the issue of illegal street takeovers, deter such activities, and ensure that the roadways in Pico Rivera remain safe for everyone.”

Garcia continued, “By taking action, we are sending a strong message that illegal street takeovers will not be tolerated in Pico Rivera and that the safety and well-being of its residents and visitors are paramount to the City Council.”

Under the proposed ordinance, any individual present as a spectator at an illegal motor vehicle speed contest or street takeover or where mere preparations are made for a street takeover is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Local law enforcement will have the authority under this ordinance to cite spectators with an administrative citation that will result in a fine of $2,000, and the penalties in this ordinance are not exclusive, supplementing any other regulatory codes, statutes, and ordinances enacted by the city, the state, or any other legal entity having jurisdiction.

A motor vehicle involved in these street takeovers will be considered a nuisance. It will be seized and subject to forfeiture if used in a street takeover in violation of California Vehicle Code Section 23109.

Upon seizure, the city manager or their public safety designee will investigate any potential claimants to the vehicle and send a seizure notice to the legal owner within ten days of seizure. This notice will allow the legal owner to request a post-seizure hearing with a third-party administrator to determine the validity of the seizure.

“With the passage of this ordinance, the City Council is sending a strong message that if you engage in street racing or street takeovers, you will forfeit your car to the City of Pico Rivera,” said Councilwoman Dr. Monica Sanchez. “We strongly urge that you cease this illegal activity in our city and any other municipal jurisdiction.”