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Sacramento City Council considers removing anti-cruising ordinance

"The anti-cruising ordinance authorizes no cruising signs, which are posted predominantly in Latino neighborhoods," said Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

SACRAMENTO, Calif — Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is calling on city council to repeal an anti-cruising ordinance.

He made the public announcement on May 22, stating the ordinance "should be repealed first and then replaced by an ordinance strengthening the prohibition against so-called sideshows and reckless driving."

In the 1980s, the Sacramento City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting cruising on streets, alleys, or highways labeled a "no-cruising zone." The ordinance defines cruising as "the repetitive driving of any motor vehicle past a traffic control point in traffic which is congested at or near the traffic control point." Violation of the ordinance can result in fines up to $500 dollars. 

"The anti-cruising ordinance authorizes no cruising signs, which are posted predominantly in Latino neighborhoods," Steinberg said. "Cruising and the lowrider community are important parts of our city culture and history. The ordinance and the signs prohibit lowriders from continuing this tradition with their families. They are unfairly lumped together with those engaged in illegal activities, such as sideshows."

According to the National Museum of African American History and Culture, lowriders are cars that express identities: social, cultural, aesthetic. The cars have been a vehicle of choice for cruising, a popular pastime in many American communities since the mid-twentieth century. Historically, lowriders were mostly Latinos from Texas, the Southwest, and Southern California. Since the 1950s, car clubs and families have converted older cars for cruising, shows, and competition at events, as they still do today.

"Lowrider car clubs in Sacramento can be seen on any given weekend providing meals at homeless safe grounds, participating in COVID-19 vaccine drives, hosting trick or treat events for kids, and raising money for local causes," Steinberg said. "In 2020, they partnered with La Familia Counseling Center to raise awareness in the Latino community about the importance of the census count."

The Greater Sacramento region has more than 40 car clubs, working to keep California's lowrider culture alive. Carlos Rodriguez is a member of Duke's Car Club, Sacramento Chapter. Duke's is the world's oldest lowrider club. Rodriguez is working with others to help raise more awareness about lowrider culture and how the anti-cruising ordinance predominantly impacts Latino communities in Sacramento.

"By far, Sacramento is one of the most united lowrider communities," Rodriguez said. "We don't just want the signs down. We want the ordinance removed. This ordinance still gives the city opportunities to pull us over. The two areas in the city this ordinance is in, is the Black and Brown communities."

The Sacramento Lowrider Commission is an independent multi-ethnic organization with a mission to be a voice for the lowrider culture and community through advocacy and youth enrichment. Since earlier this year, the commission has been urging Sacramento City Council to repeal the anti-cruising ordinance . The commission has also been working directly with Councilmember Katie Valenzuela, who represents District 4, to help make change. 

"The lowrider culture is a lifestyle and form of moving art," said Francine Mata, government policy chair, Sacramento Lowrider Commission. "People who work on their lowriders, for them, it is a form of mental health. It's also a form of community and a positive environment. The anti-cruising ordinance is outdated. It's a violation of our civil rights, targeting Latino communities."

During a recent Sacramento City Council meeting, council members discussed the possibility of removing the city's no-cruising signs and repealing the anti-cruising ordinance. The city plans on presenting a repeal ordinance for the council to vote on as soon as next week. 

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