Council Review: Council Takes Action to Stop Illegal Road Racing and Sideshows, Reviews North Santa Clara Specific Plans

By Robert Haugh

Councilwoman Kathy Watanabe urged the City to do something about illegal street racing and sideshows. According to Watanabe, the City has received 135 complaints in the last two years. This is mostly happening on Highway 237, Lafayette and Tasman.

Watanabe said the City had an ordinance in 2004. But it no longer exists. Watanabe proposed the Council authorize the City Manager to identify tools for the Council to take action immediately to stop the races and sideshows.  She also wants to create a new ordinance and increase law enforcement funding to deal with it.

The Council approved her recommendation 6-0. Kudos to Watanabe for doing a lot of homework and protecting Northside neighborhoods.

Interestingly, Police Chief Mike Sellers was at the meeting and didn’t say anything until he was asked to weigh in. Then, he didn’t really say much.

North Santa Clara Specific Plans

The City Council heard a presentation of two specific plans for North Santa Clara: the Patrick Henry area and the Freedom Circle area.

Between these two areas, Director of Community Development Andrew Crabtree estimates there could be up to 11,000 additional housing units North of Bayshore. Wow.  The buildings could be 5-25 stories high. Double wow.

The City will require that 15 percent of the units will be affordable. A draft EIR is expected in Fall 2019 and a City Council hearing in the Spring 2020.

Crabtree said that the mega development proposed by Kylli on the old Yahoo! site will move forward separately from the specific plans. Kylli wants to add 6,000 units to the area. Triple wow.

Crabtree wanted the Council to adopt a North Santa Clara Vision Plan. But they didn’t do so. They didn’t seem comfortable with Crabtree bringing it out at the last minute. They also don’t seem comfortable with the plan to build infrastructure and transportation for all these new residents.

Other Items

  • The Council took another step to replace the former Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). Last summer, the Council did not renew their contract. Now, they are moving toward a new board and a new organization that will be set up in the next few months. It’ll be fully staffed and running by Aug 1.

  • Anna Warren Cebrian, the owner of Illusive Comics & Games was recognized by the Council for her contributions to the City and hosting many community events at her store.

  • Vice Mayor Patty Mahan was absent again.


  1. So glad this was brought up,
    2 weeks ago in front of my apartment around the Homestead and San Tomas intersection there was a sideshow with 2 cars, it was so loud and at 1230am. On 101 few weeks ago in my Uber at 11pm on a weeknight we were dead stopped because there was a side show. It’s not just a Northside issue, it’s a city wide issue, and one that spills over our city borders. We are not alone.
    Ride on Highway 237 you can see all the tire-marks even spots on San Tomas.
    You can hear the echoes at night, including street racing (cars or motorcycles) on the expressways.
    I remember “cruising” down El Camino was a frowned upon in the old days but at least it was safer. This is unsafe and a public nuisance.
    Why is this so frequent and happening? simple answer, young people got nothing better to do. They live in an expensive valley that gives them little opportunities to enjoy. We have limited options for activities. We had a bowling alley but that became expensive and no one went. I grew up with lots of things to do here and today I feel the costs have driven out the ‘fun’. They may not understand the actions taken to stop it, but it’s for their own safety and the safety of the rest of our community.
    Kudos to Councilmember Watanabe for bringing this to the attention of the council and the public. Credit where credit is due.

    • A side note…
      while disagree with Councilmember Watanabe on closing off any streets we can do better than barricading. Unmarked police cars, social media, all can help track these incidents.
      This is where hopefully Councilmember Watanabe, Mayor Gillmor, etc was listening to me last fall on a community patrol which is very similar and based on the model that the Castro Community patrol uses in San Francisco
      This would help not only with the street disturbances but also with events on game days or any major stadium events to keep visitors out of the neighborhoods.

  2. “Watanabe said the City had an ordinance in 2004. But it no longer exists.”

    Just curious, but how does an ordinance go out of existence? Did the council subsequently vote to rescind the ordinance, or was there a sunset provision in the ordinance?

    • Michael, I stated that the ordinance became inoperative after 18 months. The ordinance states under Section 10.07.060 that pursuant to Vehicle Code Section 21202.4(b), this chapter shall be operative for 18 months from adoption (March 23, 2004). However, this time is subject to extension by resolution of the City Council.

      According to the City Manager ‘s memorandum, the Council in 2006 did have authority pursuant to State law to extend the operative period by resolution; however, no further Council action was, or has been, taken and, therefore, it became inoperative in 2006.

      During discussion at the Council meeting last night, it was discussed how the ordinance can be made operative and enforced again by updating, modifying it and amending it to today’s issues. That is part of the direction given to the City Manager last night.

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