PICO RIVERA — The Sheriff's Department has shut down weekend cruising on Whittier Boulevard but now is fighting the same problem on largely residential Paramount Boulevard.
This week, the City Council added $35,000 to a $50,000 special enforcement fund depleted by the Sheriff's Department effort, which is costing $5,000 a weekend. Officers estimated that at least 1,000 vehicles--most from out of town--have been cruising Pico Rivera on weekend nights since July, gathering from as far away as Pomona and Riverside.
The cruising has persisted although officers have issued more than 2,000 tickets for moving and parking violations in the last two months, said Sgt. Susan Perez of the Pico Rivera Sheriff's Station.
The cruisers' shift to Paramount Boulevard last month came to the council's attention when angry homeowners recently complained about car stereos blasting late into the night, beer bottles on lawns and youths urinating in their yards. Council members and sheriff's deputies met with about 20 homeowners last week.
"The noise problem was what first bothered us," said Rose Ordaz, whose backyard borders Paramount Boulevard. "There's a low rumble like a train coming, and it gets louder and louder. They all carry these big loudspeakers in the back, and they set them up full blast."
Other residents complained about problems in driving home through traffic. Some said they had found cruisers parked in their driveways.
The situation eased last weekend after officers stepped up enforcement on Paramount Boulevard, using cones to block entry to some residential streets and increasing patrols in the area, Perez said.
"Whatever they're doing, they're doing it right," Ordaz said. "The street was calm. We're very pleased with that."
However, a Paramount Boulevard resident told the council Monday that cruisers had removed the cones late at night and used his street as a turn-around area.
"We anticipate having a problem for several more months, and we will continue enforcement action," Perez said.
The cruising problem began in July, and in early August the council authorized stepped-up enforcement along Whittier Boulevard, including a sheriff's checkpoint that diverts cruisers to Paramount Boulevard, a four-lane street whose pavement and lighting were upgraded last year.
The council prohibited parking and stopping on Whittier Boulevard from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. on weekends and closed two municipal parking lots north of the street at 10 p.m. on weekends. Ten extra deputies patrol on weekend nights until the cruisers leave town.
Cruising on the boulevard used to last until almost 4 a.m., Perez said, but now stops between 1 and 2 a.m.
Last Saturday, the enforcement effort stopped around 2 a.m., but within a half-hour more than 100 cars had gathered in the Lucky parking lot at Whittier Boulevard and Durfee Avenue. About 20 people got into a fight, Perez said, but the crowd dispersed before deputies arrived.
Despite that, Perez called it a relatively quiet weekend. Officers made three arrests and issued 147 tickets for moving violations and 40 for parking violations.
Authorities aren't sure why Pico Rivera has become the fashionable place to cruise, but they suspect that crackdowns in neighboring Montebello, East Los Angeles and Whittier are a factor.
"Each week, we seem to have people from predominantly one area. Last weekend it was Pomona, but we've also had them from San Bernardino and Riverside," Perez said. "I was out Sunday night asking these kids, 'Why do you come here?' They said, 'Because everybody else is here.' "