The state assembly overwhelmingly voted Monday for a resolution encouraging cities to overturn their cruising bans and embrace the lowrider culture. The measure is now headed to the Senate.
Assembly Concurrent Resolution 176, introduced in April by Assemblymember Luz Rivas, D-San Fernando Valley, passed with zero opposition, with 71 lawmakers of the 80-member Assembly signing on.
Cruising in lowriders has long been a cultural pastime and artistic expression for many Chicano communities across California. Efforts to block the popular pastime started in the 1980s after the state passed a law allowing municipalities to implement bans over concerns about traffic, noise and crime.
The term lowrider then became synonymous with gang activity, but car club members say they’ve been fighting to rid themselves of the stigma to show the true values of the subculture: the love of cars, culture, community and hard work. They have worked to establish relationships with law enforcement and have participated in various community events, including charities, COVID-19 vaccine drives and the census.
“These laws wrongfully stereotype law-abiding car owners and conflate them with illegal street racers and sideshows who are and should be prosecuted for putting public lives in danger,” Rivas said. “It’s time for locals to follow these cities and repeat this archaic traffic law.”
Several lawmakers, many of whom said they either own a lowrider or grew up in the culture, spoke in support of the resolution. David Alvarez, the newly elected Assembly member for the 80th District that includes National City, voted in favor.
Largely a symbolic move, Rivas said she “wanted to start off with this resolution” to preserve cities’ local control but motivate them to repeal their bans.
Members of the United Lowrider Coalition in National City working to overturn that city’s 1992 cruising ban said they hope the Assembly vote will sway city leaders to lift the ban.
“It’s exciting and it’s a great first step, but we’re still struggling here with our repeal because we haven’t gone back to the table (with the city) to discuss it,” said Jovita Arellano, a member of the Coalition.
In May, the group held a test cruise as part of a pilot program where the city would assess what to do with their ordinance following a total of six cruises. After the May event, the Coalition decided to end the program when the city said each cruise would cost them thousands of dollars for city services.
City officials, including the police chief and a majority of the City Council, have said the costs are to ensure public safety, particularly around traffic flow, and that they are open to settling the logistics of cruising with the Coalition.
“As the official National City Lowrider Committee continues to meet and discuss next steps, we are encouraged to learn more about how communities around the state are working with law enforcement, city staff and the lowrider car clubs to create a safe cruising and family-friendly environment,” Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis said in a statement.
She said a date to meet with the Coalition has yet to be determined.
The Senate is expected to consider the resolution when it reconvenes in August.