Friday, October 23, 2009
Oakland Mayor Consider Legalizing Oakland Sideshows
Oakland Mayor Ron Dellums would consider legalizing sideshows, or spontaneous gatherings that feature street racing and car stunts, in a designated area in order to cut down on injuries and deaths, according to his spokesman.
Dellums is interested in "how to solve the issue of endangering the community and endangering the youth in the community,'' spokesman Paul Rose said.
While the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum has come up in various discussions, Rose said the mayor has no specific plan, or location, in mind. "The mayor left it open, saying he's going to work with the police chief on the matter," he said.
New Police Chief Anthony Batts addressed the issue of sideshows at his swearing-in ceremony earlier this week. Shortly after being formally installed as chief, Batts said cracking down on late-night sideshow behavior would be an immediate priority.
Police spokesman Jeff Thomason said the department was stepping up patrols this weekend in response to the incidents.
"Friday and Saturday night, we're going to be out there," he said.
Batts and the department are "looking at different alternatives," and do not yet have a position on sanctioning the activities in certain areas, he said.
"However, the fact still remains that if people are going to break the law, then we're going to be there to enforce it," he said.
The idea of allowing sideshows in designated areas has come up at various times over the years, Oakland City Council President Jane Brunner said. In 2003, Councilwoman Desley Brooks proposed legalizing sideshows in designated areas, away from residential neighborhoods.