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Putting the Brakes on Street Racing in Valley

Officials, officers and residents praise the crackdown. The effort includes speed bumps, tow-away zones and spectator citations.

March 07, 2003|Karima A. Haynes | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles officials, law enforcement officers and residents took to the streets Thursday to cheer a joint effort to crack down on illegal street racing in a northeast San Fernando Valley neighborhood.

About 50 people gathered in front of a home on Peoria Street near Glenoaks Boulevard in Sun Valley to applaud one another for curbing street racing by installing speed bumps, creating tow-away zones and citing spectators.

City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo, flanked by Los Angeles police and California Highway Patrol officers, said the coordinated effort to put the brakes on unlawful speed contests is the kind of problem he wants to solve through his office's Neighborhood Prosecutor program, which began last March.

Under the program, a prosecutor is assigned to each of the Los Angeles Police Department's 18 divisions to work with residents to identify, prioritize and address misdemeanor crimes before they escalate into felonies. Prosecutors work closely with residents to solve problems unique to a neighborhood.

In Sun Valley, residents complained for years about hundreds of races that take place every week on Glenoaks between Sheldon and Peoria streets. Law enforcement officials report the activity has spawned a large gambling operation in which spectators use the Internet to bet on races.

Neighborhood prosecutors worked with police and City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel to stop unlawful speed contests. In August, dozens of officers arrested 60 people, cited 98 spectators and impounded 92 vehicles in a sting operation on Glenoaks. In October, the City Council approved an ordinance that Greuel drafted to impose up to a $1,000 fine and six months in jail on any spectator at an illegal street race.

Cor Van Beek, 74, who has lived on Peoria Street for 42 years, said he finally has peace of mind.

"Right after they put in the speed bumps and 'No Parking' signs, we used to lay in bed waiting for the sounds, but they never came," he said. "It's wonderful."

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