Long-standing ban on car cruising could soon be lifted in San Jose

Long-standing ban on car cruising could soon be lifted in San Jose
Photo Credit: San Jose Public Library
By Wesley Severson - Published on May 13, 2022.

Good news for South Bay car fans who like to show off their prized rides at low speeds on public streets. The city of San Jose could end a ban on cruising, which has been illegal since 1992. Cruising was originally banned as a way to deter crime and traffic-related infractions from gatherings of cars slowly rolling down an urban street, but the Latino community looks at the ban as highly discriminatory, since cruising lowriders on city roads has been a part of the culture since the 1940s. 

This week, city officials pushed a plan forward to the city manager directing them to add a section to the city budget plan next month that would lift the ban. If passed, all fines would be eliminated and the no cruising signs on city streets would be removed. “There’s more than enough good reason as to why we should get rid of this law. There’s still more than enough protections for all of the other things that are illegal that we would want to continue to enforce that aren’t discriminatory in nature,” Councilmember Raul Peralez, who pushed the idea, told the SF Chronicle. As a child, Peralez would go cruising with his parents.

San Jose police don’t really enforce the cruising laws and haven’t issued fines for cruising in decades. Despite that, the police department appears to be against lifting the ban, because they say it can lead to other problems of a criminal nature like violence, speeding, street racing, or dangerous sideshow events. “This is something that while right now is not a tool that’s been used very often, it is something that we do not want to lose out of our toolbox,” SJPD Lt. Steve Donohue told the SF Chronicle.

“It’s not cruising that we’re actually trying to enforce. It’s these other things that are happening that happen to also be illegal,” Peralez says. He believes that city officials and San Jose police can work together with cruising groups like the United Lowrider Council of San Jose to help stop crimes that can occur. “That’s the goal so that we can we can continue the culture and highlight it in San Jose,” United Lowrider Council of San José president David Polanco told the SF Chronicle.

Sacramento is also working with police and city officials to lift the cruising ban in that city and National City in San Diego County has a pilot program underway that makes cruising legal by allowing a well-established lowrider group to enforce safety at cruising events. The San Jose City Council is expected to vote on lifting the cruising ban at some point in June when council members make a final decision on the current city budget plan.