Assembly encourages California cities to embrace lowrider culture

The state Assembly voted overwhelmingly on Monday for a resolution encouraging cities to roll back their cruise bans and embrace the lowrider culture. The measure now heads to the Senate.

Concurrent Assembly Resolution 176, introduced in April by Assemblyman Luz Rivas, D-San Fernando Valley, passed without opposition, with the signatures of 71 of the 80 assembly members.

Lowrider cruising has long been a cultural pastime and artistic expression for many Chicano communities across California. Efforts to block the popular pastime began in the 1980s after the state passed a law allowing municipalities to implement bans due to traffic, noise and crime concerns.

The term lowrider then became synonymous with gang activity, but auto club members say they fought to shed the stigma to show the subculture’s true values: a love of cars, culture, community and hard work. They worked to build relationships with law enforcement and participated in various community events, including charity work, COVID-19 vaccination campaigns and the census.

“These laws wrongly stereotype law-abiding car owners and confuse them with illegal street racers and sideshows who are and should be prosecuted for endangering public life,” Rivas said. “It’s time for residents to follow these cities and repeal this archaic traffic laws.”

Several lawmakers, many of whom said they owned a lowrider or grew up in the culture, spoke in favor of the resolution. David Alvarez, the newly elected member of the Assembly for the 80e District which includes National City, voted in favor.

A largely symbolic move, Rivas said she “wanted to start with this resolution” to preserve local control of cities but motivate them to repeal their bans.

Members of the United Lowrider Coalition in National City who are working to overturn the city’s 1992 cruise ban said they hope the Assembly vote will spur city leaders to lift the prohibition.

“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, 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 prescription after 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, said the costs were for public safety, especially around traffic, and they were willing to sort out logistics. of the cruise 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 across the state are working with law enforcement, city ​​and lowrider car clubs to create a safe and family-friendly cruise. environment,” Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis said in a statement.

She said a date to meet with the Coalition has not yet been determined.

The Senate is expected to consider the resolution when it meets again in August.

Bernard P. Love