New California Law Prohibits Local Bans on Lowriders, Cruising

New California Law Prohibits Local Bans on Lowriders, Cruising

A lowrider truck flies an American flag at the drive-by birthday party for World War II veteran Lt. Colonel Sam Sachs, who turned 105, in Lakewood, Calif., on April 26, 2020. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

10/19/2023

Updated: 12/30/2023

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California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill Oct. 13 which repeals a 40-year law allowing local jurisdictions to regulate or ban lowriding and cruising in their communities.
Assembly Bill 436, authored by Assemblyman David Alvarez (D–Chula Vista), overrides the 1982 state law that gave cities the authority to ban or regulate cruising to protect local businesses and prevent increased traffic, noise, and pollution levels in areas where lowrider communities gather, according to an Assembly analysis of the bill.
It also reverses a previous law that prohibits the body of any vehicle from being lowered past the lowest point of the vehicle’s rims, according to the bill text, which is common in lowriders.
“Cruising is part of culture for many multicultural communities, a way of expressing love for art, and bringing unity,” Mr. Alvarez said in the same analysis. “Since the 1980s, cities across [the] state began permitting these local bans. That was an unfair and targeting move. It is time that we repeal [these] local ordinances to allow multicultural communities to express their love for these amazing vehicles.”
Lowriders are customized cars known for their colorful designs, lowered bodies, and height adjustable suspension fitted with hydraulics, allowing the cars to spring up and down while cruising at low speeds.
Union members and their families drive lowrider cars through the streets during the annual Labor Day parade and rally in Long Beach, Calif., on Sept. 3, 2018. (Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

Union members and their families drive lowrider cars through the streets during the annual Labor Day parade and rally in Long Beach, Calif., on Sept. 3, 2018. (Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

For years, advocates in lowrider communities have fought to repeal some local regulations, with recent successes in Sacramento last year and National City in April, which both repealed more than 30-year bans.
According to the bill analysis, regulations started as far back as the 1970s when Los Angeles outlawed parking on San Fernando Valley’s Van Nuys Boulevard and turned it into a one-way street to prevent cruising. The following summer, around 15,000 people reportedly gathered on the street to protest the move.
Cruising became popular in the United States primarily after the release of the 1973 comedy-drama “American Graffiti,” which surpassed $200 million in revenue with a $1 million budget. It was set in 1960s Modesto, California, “featuring a group of friends cruising the streets before heading off to college,” according to lawmakers in the analysis. Modesto enacted its own cruising ban in the 1990s.
Dodgers fans celebrate in a lowrider vehicle after the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 2020. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Dodgers fans celebrate in a lowrider vehicle after the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 2020. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

The new law reverses the state’s 1982 authorization for cities to enact their own rules regarding cruising. Under existing law, cities are prohibited from enforcing any ordinances over matters related to the state’s Vehicle Code, unless expressly authorized, according to the bill text.
Those in support of the bill included the California Lowrider Alliance—a coalition of lowrider enthusiasts—as well as some local cities, government officials, and other related organizations.
In a letter of support for the bill, the Sacramento Lowrider Commission—which is part of the statewide alliance—argued “No Cruising” laws only served to racially profile those in the lowrider community.
“The No Cruising laws are an application of the inequities and racial profiling of a car culture that is family oriented and in itself an expression of the vehicle owner’s art on wheels,” they wrote.
Participants in a lowrider pass a church during the 77th annual East LA Mexican Independence Day Parade in Los Angeles on Sept. 10, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Participants in a lowrider pass a church during the 77th annual East LA Mexican Independence Day Parade in Los Angeles on Sept. 10, 2023. (Mario Tama/Getty Images)

The group said after questioning authorities from Sacramento, Modesto, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Fresno, San Jose, and Santa Rosa how many times law enforcement have enforced the local ordinances in such cities, and the answer was zero. The California Highway Patrol has enforced the law against lowered vehicles only 19 times since 1959, according to the commission.
“So why criminalize lowriders with a No Cruising and lowered vehicle laws if the need for the laws and ordinance does not exist,” they said.
President of the Sacramento Lowrider Commission, Francine Mata, told The Epoch Times the lowrider community is a family-oriented, diverse community.
“Even within Sacramento we do over 100 community engagement events every year, which is probably about 1500 hours of community service every year. ... This group engages a diverse community of all backgrounds, all colors, all ages, and that’s what we’re here to project. No more being identified as criminals or gangbangers, we’re not that,” she said.
Families drive lowrider cars through the streets during the annual Labor Day parade and rally in Long Beach, Calif., on Sept. 3, 2018. (Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

Families drive lowrider cars through the streets during the annual Labor Day parade and rally in Long Beach, Calif., on Sept. 3, 2018. (Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images)

The Peace Officers Research Association of California—a federation of law enforcement agencies in the state—argued against the reversal of the original law, citing concerns over narcotics activity, assaults, possession of firearms, gang violence, and negative impacts on businesses from gatherings formed by lowrider communities.
The group said the repeal of the law would add more pressure on law enforcement, which already respond to many other types of large gatherings from car enthusiast communities, such as street takeovers and street racing.
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Rudy Blalock

Rudy Blalock

Author

Rudy Blalock is a Southern California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times. Originally from Michigan, he moved to California in 2017, and the sunshine and ocean have kept him here since. In his free time, he may be found underwater scuba diving, on top of a mountain hiking or snowboarding—or at home meditating, which helps fuel his active lifestyle.

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