By Ray Richardson
LOS ANGELES — Street takeovers have moved up significantly on the priority list of the county Board of Supervisors, prompting the five-member board to recruit multiple law enforcement agencies in attempts to stop the growing safety problem.
The supervisors voted unanimously Sept. 12 to conduct a symposium that will include the Los Angeles Police Department, county Sheriff’s Department, California Highway Patrol, the Department of Public Health, the county District Attorney’s Office and other community and public service agencies.
“The mere act of walking across the street, returning home from work or the grocery store has become hazardous in too many communities across L.A. County,” Supervisor Holly Mitchell said. “And for all of us, that’s unacceptable.”
Mitchell introduced the motion to create the symposium. The motion calls for the scheduling of a symposium no later than next Feb. 28, followed up by a written plan of action within 60 days after the session.
Mitchell and Supervisors Janice Hahn, Hilda Solis, Lindsey Horvath and Kathryn Barger have seen an increase in calls and complaints over the past two years regarding street takeovers, events in which car enthusiasts use major streets to perform unsafe driving stunts as well as exhibitions of speed.
According to the California County News, the sheriff’s department fielded more than 3,100 calls related to street takeovers between Jan. 1, 2020 and July 25, 2022.
The timing of Mitchell’s motion coincides with a strong law enforcement response to recent street takeovers in Compton, which is one of the cities in Mitchell’s district.
During the weekend of Sept. 8-9, police arrested 62 spectators, impounded 40 vehicles, issued 72 traffic citations, arrested two individuals for possession of a firearm and arrested one person for assault with a deadly weapon on a peace officer.
“There seems to be an utter disregard by the organizers, the participants and those who film it for the safety of the surrounding community and their very own neighbors,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell’s six-page motion opened up with the tragic account of two individuals who were not attending a street takeover in West Rancho Dominguez earlier this year but became victims of a nearby traffic accident.
Raymond Olivares and his fiance were driving on Avalon Boulevard on Feb. 23 when they were struck by a vehicle that was racing from the scene of a street takeover. Olivares died from the crash. His fiance suffered serious injuries.
The motion highlighted Olivares’ death as one of many fatal incidents in recent years involving street takeovers.
On Sept. 9, an LAPD officer suffered a head injury when an object was thrown at her while she and other officers attempted to clear a street takeover near the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles.
In August, two men were shot to death at a street takeover event in South Los Angeles at Hooper Avenue and Firestone Boulevard, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. One man died at the scene, and the other man died at a hospital.
“All we have right now is the fact that there was a street takeover that occurred initially, and that escalated to a shooting,” sheriff’s Lt. Omar Camacho told reporters at the scene. “The motive — or what occurred in between there — we’re still trying to determine that.”
In addition to plans to crack down on street takeovers, the supervisors indicated their desire to offer alternative sites for driving activities to keep participants from taking over public streets and neighborhoods.
Mitchell’s motion includes provisions to research and identify enclosed or private areas that could serve as sites for performance activities.
“I don’t know if there’s a correlation between a safe space [for participants] versus this need to continually be illegal and take over intersections,” Hahn said.
The intent, however, is clear. The supervisors are determined to take on the problem.
“Unfortunately, we may see more and more of these things happen unless some action is taken,” Solis said.
Ray Richardson is a contributing writer for The Wave. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
City News Service contributed to this story.