UPDATE: San Jose approves penalties for cheering on sideshow spectators

Posting shows and street races in San Jose on social media can now cost you up to $ 1,000 and six months in jail.

San Jose City Council unanimously approved a new ordinance on Tuesday that will make it illegal to encourage or promote people to attend a side event.

San Jose is already targeting sideshows audiences to combat illegal gatherings. But Tuesday’s ordinance will now allow the city to penalize people who encourage others to stage or attend side shows.

Offenders can be charged with a misdemeanor and fined up to $ 1,000, serve up to six months in prison, or both.

“There are other agencies that are looking at us and looking at how we created the toolkit on how to manage shows,” said Captain Todd Trayer of the San Jose Police Department.

San Jose Police will follow promoters through methods such as testimonials and social media.

“I think the promoters and anyone who shares more information (about the side shows) should be held accountable, and I’m happy we’re moving in that direction,” said Trudy Ellerbeck, secretary of the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Association. , in San José Spotlight on Monday.

She added the city could do more to ease traffic and said the city could be more assertive in preventing people from out of town from entering San José and participating in shows.

Ellerbeck says she can hear shows where she lives in East San Jose on Fridays and Saturdays, although she says they’re over a mile away.

“It affects all areas of the city. Our residents face this day in and day out, ”said board member Maya Esparza. “And I can hear it. It is not just about the dangers of street racing and side shows, which are dangerous enough in themselves. But it’s also the growing number of shooting incidents at side shows that really takes community endangerment to the next level. “

City Councilor Sylvia Arenas said residents of her neighborhood have even gone so far as to create their own speed bumps to try and stop speeding.

Her colleague, Councilor Magdalena Carrasco, told a similar story, saying she often hears performances outside her home until 1 a.m.

“It is sheer madness to hear rubber burn and then gunshots,” she said. “I hope people finally get the message. … People should be able to go to bed at a decent time at 1:00 am, 2:00 am, 3:00 am.

The approval on Tuesday comes after a discussion on March 30 and council ordering the city attorney’s office to draft a law.

A sideshow is an illegal gathering of cars in a parking lot or intersection. Drivers perform donuts and other stunts, which draw large crowds that pour into busy intersections, endangering the lives of spectators and drivers. Many shows take place at night, drawing complaints from neighbors about loud noises and racing cars.

When the police arrive at the shows, runners and spectators flee the site and congregate at another location. Responding to side shows draws resources from other emergencies, city officials said.

According to SJPD data, from September 2020 to February 2021, the department received 2,421 calls regarding illegal gatherings related to cars. A South San Jose residence received an impressive 157 calls during that time.

A resident, Chris, who did not give his last name, shared his concerns about a recent sideshow in Stevens Creek and Winchester.

“Our community was very dismayed at the lack of police action to take this into account,” he said.

The most common intersections for calls include East Capitol Expressway and Tully Road with 24 calls, Story Road and South King Road with 21 calls, East Capitol Expressway and Quimby Road with 20 calls, and three locations along Yerba Buena Road.

In an effort to prevent illegal gatherings, San Jose will begin designing several rapid construction projects later this summer aimed at tackling dangerous driving at five intersections identified by SJPD, including 10th Street and Phelan Avenue, Hillsdale Road & Communications Hill Boulevard, Little Orchard Street and Barnard Avenue, 5550 Hellyer Avenue and 2121 Ringwood Avenue and Lundy Avenue and Concourse Drive.

A map shows the city’s hot spots for shows and races. Courtesy of San José.

The city hopes to complete the projects by next year.

The city installed yellow dividers at another sideshow hot spot, Yerba Buena and Verona Roads earlier this year.

The SJPD is also studying other technologies, such as cameras, according to Trayer.

The city closed Roosevelt Park ahead of Cinco de Mayo in anticipation of shows to celebrate the holidays last month.

High-speed racing is another issue the city hopes to address with the new policy. Just two weeks ago, a 19-year-old man died after crashing into a tree on the Capitol Expressway in southern San Jose.

“We have seen too many tragedies in our city,” council member Matt Mahan, whose district includes southern San Jose, told the San José Spotlight on Monday. “My message to street runners is that it is not worth losing your life. These new measures help to strengthen this point.

New yellow dividers have been added to Yerba Buena Road to discourage shows and races. Courtesy of the City of San José.

San José already passed a law in 2019 that prohibits the public from performing. Getting together at a sideshow or street race is an offense and can result in a fine of up to $ 1,000. Tuesday’s proposal will make it illegal to encourage or assist people to assemble at shows and street races.

According to Police Chief Anthony Mata, the city will use social media and newsletters to warn residents not to participate in shows and races.

Ellerbeck says she understands the SJPD is understaffed and likely won’t be attending every show in town.

“There has to be a more regional approach so that those who engage in these activities cannot travel so quickly from one city to another,” said Ellerbeck.

To report a sideshow, call the SJPD non-emergency line at 408-277-8900 or click here.

Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.

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