City leaders in Oakland demand sideshow crackdown

Oakland city leaders are calling for a crackdown on sideshows, those mass gatherings of people watching muscle cars do donuts, leaving trails of burned rubber in the streets.

"My neighborhood streets are not playgrounds," said Oakland City Councilman Noel Gallo. "We're just waiting for a catastrophe to happen and one of these cars gets out of control and kills people and then we'll be reacting to it."

Gallo said he's tried and failed in the past to get sideshows off the streets, and into a safer environment like a fairgrounds. "I would try that in a minute," Gallo said. "But politically I know I don't have that support." Mostly, Gallo said, because no one wants to be seen as "sanctioning" sideshows.

After heavy sideshow activity in East Oakland over the weekend, Mayor Libby Schaaf said it's time to put an end to them.

"The city of Oakland will not tolerate sideshow activities," Schaaf said. "Sideshows represent an unacceptable amount of risk for motorists, for pedestrians, but most importantly, the residents of Oakland deserve to have peace and quiet and be able to enjoy their community, particularly at night."

"There's not that much police around. That's why everybody pretty much does what they want," explained Robert Quintero of East Oakland. "Man, it gets your adrenaline going gets your heart pumping!"

Quintero said he used to be lured by the spectacle of sideshows, until he had a son. Now he stays home and hopes his son will not side on the sidelines of a sideshow when he grows up.

Gallo sent an email Monday to Oakland's state lobbyist asking to add sideshows to the state's nuisance vehicles. He wants Oakland to start a pilot program to impound sideshow cars after a first offense.

"You don't go to Alameda or San Leandro to create sideshows," Gallo explained. "You come to Oakland to do it because we have allowed that behavior for too long."