Watching a street race? You could be fined $1,000 in Santa Ana

Have you ever seen a street race? Attending one could now cost you a big fine.  

A proposal making its way through Santa Ana City Council could charge street racing spectators with a $1,000 fine.  

Spectators knowingly standing within 200 feet of races or dangerous street events would get warnings, but eventually could be fined or end up with a six month jail sentence.

Councilmembers are still working on the wording of the proposal and coming to agreement on issues like, how do you tell who is a participant vs. someone who stepped out of the house when they heard the loud screeching of tires. 

Recent street racing events have gotten huge, with hundreds of people showing up to see cars do donuts and race.  

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A multi-agency task force in Orange County, which includes the Santa Ana Police Department, has been busy since last fall with 124 operations, over 2,000 citations for drivers, 261 cars impounded, and more than two hundred arrests.

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But if they could target onlookers and reduce the crowds, that would help, say law enforcement officials.  First, it would decrease the number of injuries, but it might discourage onlookers, in turn, the appeal to have the events all the time. 

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A second reading on the amended law will happen in June.

Donald Galaz, the spokesperson for the National and International Brotherhood of Street Racers, weighed in on the new proposal.

"Instead of charging people $1,000 for spectating, why not open up the Cosa Mesa fairgrounds and create a venue for these kids to get them off the street and use the proceeds that are generated for automotive schools and trade school programs and stuff like that?" said Galaz.

Galaz said street racing is a sport.

"It's like anything else like basketball, baseball, little league and all that and it needs to be in a controlled environment. You're gonna find some of the smartest, brightest individuals at the street races because of the fact that the automotive schools and trades have been taken out of the high schools so a lot of kids are self taught with the cars tuning and stuff like that," he said.

Galaz said their organization was known for organizing meetups in the past.

"In the past, our organization has been known to more or less get everything under control, but the way things are now, it's out of control out there. We try to organize but we've been unsuccessful because the crowds are huge. They're too huge. The cars are too fast. They're [cars] too big for the streets," he said.

Galaz does not believe the proposal would work either.  

"They'll [street racers] just move to another street. They'll move to another town," he said.