Police break up sideshows in San Francisco's West Portal neighborhood

Photo credit: Kai Sparnas

The notorious illegal car shows known as sideshows are moving into some of San Francisco's quieter neighborhoods. Sideshows took place on the west side of town, almost at the same time.

Neighbors say they're seeing more and more of the illegal car shows, and the burned out rubber they leave in crosswalks around the city.

The overnight calm of San Francisco's West Portal neighborhood was broken early Sunday morning by the roar of engines and squeal of tires at the intersection of Ulloa Street and Claremont Boulevard. In a video shot by one neighbor you can hear her ask "Excuse me, why West Portal? It's so random."

Off camera a man answers, "Enjoy the show!"

At one point, you can see multiple cars burning rubber, and someone standing up out from the moon roof of a car spinning donuts. The sideshow starting after midnight and going on for more than 15 minutes before police broke it up.

At just about the same time another sideshow was underway at Lawton and 30th Avenue, just a 10 minute drive away. In viral video shot at the scene you can see a young woman scramble to avoid being struck by a spinning car.

San Francisco police released a statement confirming both sideshows, and saying officers arrived on both scenes at 12:40 a.m. and 12:50 a.m., and dispersed the crowds. Police said, "We have no arrest or citations to mention at this time."

San Franciscans say these latest sideshows in quiet residential neighborhoods, while shocking aren't necessarily surprising.  They say they're happening all over the city more frequently. 

"Yeah, last week our son had basketball practice up near St. Brendan's and during practice at around 8 o'clock the smell from the burning tires came into the gym, so it kind of disrupted practice, closing doors and things," said Marty Gaehwiler.

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Residents say with recent mass robberies they fear the sideshows are a symptom of greater problems in the city. "Yeah, it's kind of the trend of lawlessness overall right?" said Gaehwiler. "You know, mass break-ins, mass sideshows. You know, I think we need some different approaches to dealing with these quality of life issues."

Police say if residents hear or witness a sideshow call 911 or the police non-emergency line.