Parking lot takeover
A takeover in an Escondido parking lot. File photo via OnScene.TV

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Monday a bill to prohibit street racing, takeovers and sideshows in parking lots across the state.

The bipartisan Assembly Bill 2000, authored by Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel of Woodland Hills, aims to crack down on the increasing practice, which has led a number of deaths.

“Far too frequently, street racing and illegal sideshows devastate families, harm innocent bystanders, and cut short young lives,” said Gabriel, who added that communities across California are “sick and tired of this reckless behavior.”

AB 2000 builds on earlier legislation to allow courts to suspend a driver’s license for speeding during a race or sideshow taking place in a parking lot, a venue not previously covered by state law.

“There are countless stories every week throughout California about illegal street races and dangerous sideshows shutting down streets, causing accidents, damaging neighborhoods, and endangering lives,” said the bill’s joint-author, Assemblymember Vince Fong of Kern County.

Over Labor Day weekend in the San Diego area, 11 people were arrested and 51 cited for street racing and sideshows. Last year in Chula Vista, a grandmother was killed and two children injured when a Ford Mustang involved in an illegal street race struck her car and caused a chain-reaction crash.

Across the state, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a sharp rise in illegal street racing activity as drivers took advantage of roads emptied by stay-at-home orders.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.