Compton officials vote for fine, jail in street takeover ordinance

The Compton City Council voted unanimously to pass a motion that would cause individuals to come out of pocket and pay a hefty fine and/or look at potential jail time if they are watching or participating in a street takeover. The City Council voted 5-0 to pass a motion that would also allow for a vehicle to be forfeited to authorities as well. 

Like a lot of cities in Southern California and around the country, street takeovers have been nothing short of a public menace with loud, roaring cars screeching the heck out of the streets of local municipalities with ugly black tire treads and a ghastly smell left behind from the burnt runner used from peeling out while entertaining onlookers. 

Street takeovers have proven to be dangerous and fatal as well. Needless to say, street takeovers have become a hot-button topic for just about every jurisdiction in the state and the nation. For Compton, the passing of this ordinance during a Feb. 20 council meeting, gives the city some kind of leverage to try to combat the street takeover issue. 

So what the full City Council voted to pass is that any spectators who are knowingly present at an illegal speed contest, exhibition of speed, street racing, street takeover, sideshow, motorcycle stunting, and reckless driving exhibition, face a maximum of six months in jail or up to $1,000 in fines.       

With an eye on public safety, Compton officials voted to amend Section 7-27 of Chapter VII of the Compton Municipal Code that would allow for the forfeiture of vehicles caught up or participating in any illegal street racing and street takeover activities, including street races, exhibitions of speed, reckless driving exhibitions, and motorcycle stunting. 

City Attorney Eric Perrodin presented the City’s argument to amend Section 7-27 of Chapter VII of the Compton Municipal Code in a staff report, a move to give authorities more muscle to fight the public nuisances that street takeovers cause.        

“Street takeovers have been an increasing issue within the City. They are planned and coordinated by participants and spectators through the use of social media, cell phones, police scanners, and other electronic devices that allow them to move locations and avoid law enforcement altogether. Both participants and spectators of such events create a dangerous environment not only when performing the demonstrations but also when fleeing upon the arrival of law enforcement,” part of the report reads.  

“Spectators exacerbate the occurrence of these illegal vehicle speed contests and exhibitions of speed, creating an environment that place the safety and welfare of the public and themselves at risk. Not only are they a concern for public safety, they cause damage to public property that the City needs to repair with public funds. The existing provisions in the Municipal Code as it relates to illegal speed contests, exhibitions of speed, street races, street takeovers, sideshows, motorcycle stunting and reckless driving exhibitions, do not include a section regarding the seizure and forfeiture of vehicles engaged in such actions.”  

Though the council took a unanimous vote on the matter, Councilman Jonathan Bowers took exception to the imposed fine and possibly jail time for the infractions. Bowers wants to see a much stiffer penalty for perpetrators. If he had his way, a $5,000 fine would be a more sufficient deterrent to those participating in street takeovers or illegal street racing. 

“This doesn’t have enough teeth in it,” Bowers said. 

While this should have been a slam dunk for the council, the issue turned out to be a back-and-forth extended dialogue about enforcement and the possibility of bringing the item back for consideration. Bowers continued to rail about the $1,000 fine coming up short of meeting the mark.

“I’m for this ordinance, [but] these fines are just not stiff enough,” Bowers remarked. 

Once he finished speaking to City Manager Willie A. Hopkins about possible enforcement tactics, Bowers reiterated his stance on the increase in fines.  

“People are paying a $1,000 fine as we speak,” Bowers said. “It doesn’t hurt them. It’s not stiff enough. So there should be multiple fines with this…even the environmental impact. A lady…a senior citizen told me today how the smoke makes her sick. It is poison.” 

“This is just one issue, not accounting speed and just the nonsense and the destruction of public property. So, that in of itself I’m sure is a crime for them to vandalize our property like that consistently. It’s a public safety issue in general,” Bowers added. 

 

     

Dennis J. Freeman Written by:

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