LA County Board to Consider Convening `Symposium' on Street Takeovers

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors Tuesday unanimously directed a host of county and other agencies to hold a community symposium on street takeovers.

The motion by Supervisor Holly Mitchell calls on the county Department of Public Health, Department of Public Works, Sheriff's Department, the California Highway Patrol, the District Attorney's Office and other organizations to take part in a meeting no later than Feb. 28, 2024, then report back to the board with recommendations for addressing the issue.

Mitchell said the symposium should be "a forum to gather information and (develop) a comprehensive plan to address the issue."

She said participants should review preventive measures that have been tried in the past to determine which ones worked and which didn't, and what new steps can be taken.

She said there "seems to be an utter disregard by the organizers, the participants, those who film it ... for the safety of the surrounding community and their very own neighbors."

Street takeovers have been a growing problem across the Southland, highlighted in July 2022 when the Sixth Street Viaduct opened near downtown Los Angeles, leading to an almost immediate surge of dangerous stunt driving and vehicle takeovers on the bridge.

During the board meeting, several relatives of people who have died as a result of street racing spoke tearfully in support of the motion, with one saying, "My family will never, ever, ever be the same."

"It needs to stop," she added.

Mitchell's motion suggests participants in the symposium consider proposals such as providing secure permanent closed tracks, separate from public streets, for street performance activities in communities most impacted by illegal street racing and street takeovers.

Supervisor Janice Hahn supported such a concept, saying there used to be a legal racing facility in the harbor area.

"It was a regular safe place for racing," Hahn said. "And I don't know if there's a correlation between no safe space for that to happen versus this need to continually be illegal and take over intersections."

Mitchell's motion also suggested infrastructure improvements to curb street takeovers, along with an examination of whether land use encourages street takeovers.

Supervisors spoke unanimously in support of the symposium.

"Unfortunately, we may see more and more of this happen unless some action is taken," Supervisor Hilda Solis said.

The county's existing street racing ordinance, which makes it a misdemeanor to be a spectator at such events, includes penalties including fines of up to $500, imprisonment of no more than six months in jail, or both.

The motion calls for participants at the symposium to recommend possible changes to the ordinance, including potential increases in penalties, and whether penalties can be assessed against street racing spectators who post on social media. The possibility of working with social media partners to remove posts that include such illegal activity from their platforms would also be discussed.

Though dangerous street takeovers and sideshows can lead to deadly shootings, fatal car crashes and property damage, the county's ability to address the issues is limited in unincorporated areas, according to the motion. The California Highway Patrol enforces speed limits and the sheriff's department breaks up large gatherings, while the Department of Public Works deploys infrastructure solutions.

On Sept. 7, 2022, the county Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission conducted a virtual conference with law enforcement, local experts and nonprofit organizations to discuss the dangers of illegal street racing and reckless driving. Though the resulting report was not adopted by the COC, it addressed the need for a plan to address illegal street takeovers with a comprehensive approach that goes beyond punishment.

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