Council approves ordinance targeting attendees of illegal street takeovers in Long Beach

Spectators at illegal street takeover and racing events in Long Beach can soon be charged with an infraction or misdemeanor after the City Council took the first of two procedural votes to add the law to the city’s municipal code.

The ordinance was requested last year as a host of other cities in the region were adopting, or had already adopted, similar laws. While street takeover events and illegal street racing are covered by state law, Councilman Daryl Supernaw said putting it on the books in Long Beach will serve as a deterrent.

“Our city should never be a target due to inadequate or non-existent laws,” Supernaw said Tuesday.

The council voted 8-0 to give preliminary approval to the ordinance, but some members reiterated concerns that the law should be narrowly targeted and give opportunities for youth who could potentially be ensnared by the ordinance a chance to keep the penalties off their records.

The ordinance makes being present at an illegal street racing event or other “reckless driving exhibition” punishable as a misdemeanor but the city prosecutor would have discretion over what charges to file.

Councilman Rex Richardson agreed that people should face consequences when they break the law but said he wanted to make sure that city ordinances are not putting permanent black marks on people’s records and should be sensitive to young people.

Other members of the council supported that idea with Councilwoman Cindy Allen saying that a focus needed to be placed on the drivers.

“These events would never even happen without the drivers,” Allen said.

City Prosecutor Doug Haubert spoke Tuesday and said his office could use one of the city’s diversion programs like PATH, which provides workplace development and job placement as an alternative to prosecution. The program applies to persons between the ages of 18 and 24.

Haubert said that because they are diversion programs, they happen before filing so the cases never get to a courtroom.

Once the ordinance is signed into law it will apply to any kind of illegal street takeovers that happen on city streets or parking facilities accessible to the public. A person can be considered “present” at the event if they’re found to be within 200 feet of the reckless driving exhibition, according to the ordinance’s language.

New ordinance could make it a misdemeanor offense to attend street takeover events in Long Beach

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Jason Ruiz has been covering City Hall for the Post for nearly a decade. A Long Beach resident, Ruiz graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a degree in journalism. He and his wife Kristina and, most importantly, their dog Mango, live in Long Beach. He is a particularly avid fan of the Dallas Cowboys and the UCLA Bruins, which is why he sometimes comes to work after the weekend in a grumpy mood.