Legislation To Curb Unlawful Sideshows Advances To Board Of Supervisors

Despite concerns of over policing, legislation designed to curtail unlawful sideshows will move to the Board of Supervisors.

San Francisco city hall
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Legislation to allow San Francisco police impound vehicles involved in sideshow events is moving forward for a vote next Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors.

Introduced by District 11 Supervisor Ahsha Safai, the legislation is intended to send a message to individuals who participate in the sideshows that officials will not tolerate the dangerous and reckless driving stunts, the supervisor said Thursday at the Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee.

“When people are doing stunt driving, they’re putting their own lives at risk and they’re putting the lives of others at risk,” Safai said.

Many sideshows, which have been video recorded and shared on social media, involve motorists doing doughnuts and other stunts, sometimes in front of hundreds of spectators.

Safai’s proposal would allow the city to impound vehicles of individuals who help facilitate the events and who participate in them if caught. Vehicles would be impounded for no less than 14 days for the first violation, no less than 15 days for a second violation and no less than 29 days for a third violation as allowed by state law.

Both the Excelsior and greater Ingleside have been sites of these events. On Monday, Sept. 21, Taraval Station police officers monitored a group of 50 motorists gathered at the intersection of Plymouth Avenue and Sadowa Street. The group dispersed without incident.

Safai pointed to a recent sideshow near Paris Street and Russia Avenue that drew hundreds of spectators. Three people were shot near the event, including 21-year-old Cesar Corza of Sacramento who died of his injuries.

Chief of Police Bill Scott told supervisors that 911 dispatchers received hundreds of calls that night from just that one event. Scott said the car sideshows are happening around the country and the department is taking in lessons learned from other cities.

Scott said last month at a press conference that officers will arrest individuals involved in the stunt events if there is evidence — usually phone or surveillance footage.

Scott outlined other sideshows that occurred last month, including two in the Bayview neighborhood on Sept. 6 and Sept. 20. The early morning event on Sept. 20, near McKinnon and Barneveld avenues, participants fired guns. Officers found 70 bullet casings in the area.

“I know it may seem fun to young people, it may seem exciting to young people, but these sideshows are very dangerous,” said District 10 Supervisor Shamann Walton, who supports the proposed legislation.

Several people called into the Thursday meeting during public comment to say that the proposed legislation results in more criminalization of black and brown youth and furthers gentrification.

Safai rebuked those claims and said his proposal was “community driven” and heard from residents who have long complained about many of the car sideshows.

“This is not displacing anybody. This is not transforming a neighborhood. This is about protecting people’s health and safety,” he said.

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