one of many recent sideshows
Sideshow at 24th and Bryant on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020

The San Francisco Police Department impounded 11 vehicles and cited 10 people following a rowdy 100-vehicle sideshow at Dolores and 30th streets in the wee hours of Jan. 24, the department said on Thursday.  

That means police pulled off what they’ve often struggled to do in months past: Break up an illegal sideshow and hold some participants accountable. 

Sideshows are events in which drivers block off an intersection while other cars take turns doing donuts, throwing burning rubber smoke into the air and waking up residents with the noise. As sideshows have become more frequent in San Francisco over the past year, so too have reports that police have been caught flat-footed when responding. 

Mission Local reported in September that police were standing by and watching a sideshow at Mission and Persia streets moments before a shooting broke out within the fray, killing one man and critically wounding two others. 

Weeks later, Supervisor Ahsha Safai introduced legislation that would allow the city to impound the cars of participants, which the Board of Supervisors passed unanimously in October. Meanwhile, Chief Bill Scott formed a “Stunt Driving Response Unit,” a dedicated team of officers who are trained to respond to sideshows. 

The two measures appear to have been at work at 2:45 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 24. Officers from the response unit arrived at the intersection of 30th and Dolores streets and observed “more than 100” cars gathered to watch  drivers doing donuts in the intersection, according to police.

The officers ordered the participants to disperse. While most of them complied, 11 vehicles were abandoned and police were able to impound them. Their owners — all from Oakland, San Leandro, Castro Valley, Petaluma, Antioch, Santa Rosa, San Mateo and Stockton — were cited. 

“Stunt driving events are a dangerous trend that poses especially grave risks to a city a densely populated as San Francisco,” Scott said in a statement. “And the fact that most of these violators are very young, inexperienced drivers makes this trend especially worrisome.”

Members of the Board of Supervisors also appeared relieved that the enforcement on Dolores Street was successful. 

Supervisor Hillary Ronen said she was “encouraged” by Scott’s new sideshow response team. 

“Sideshows and illegal stunt driving have become an increasingly dangerous problem in District 9,” she said. “Not only are these activities extremely unsafe for the participants, they’ve been associated with burglaries and shootings that endanger the public.” 

Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, who represents residents in the area of Dolores and 30th streets, was also pleased with the response. 

“I’m grateful to the SFPD’s Stunt Driving Response Unit for quickly resolving the recent stunt driving incident on Dolores Street in my district before anyone was seriously injured,” he said.

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Julian grew up in the East Bay and moved to San Francisco in 2014. Before joining Mission Local, he wrote for the East Bay Express, the SF Bay Guardian, and the San Francisco Business Times.

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  1. Sunday morning 3/21, at 1:30 am, the perps came revving to Geneva and Alemany as usual. I waited ten minutes to see how fast the sfpd would respond. Nothing. The noise was brutal like a war zone, complete with loud fireworks that sounded like guns firing. I called the police. The female Sargent at Ingleside station stated that they were aware and had received other calls already. I was astounded

    This noise could have been heard over there for sure! They don’t need phone calls!
    I timed it. Another fifteen minutes passed. Then eight blaring cop cars arrived all at once going from San Jose avenue down Geneva in formation. Because of all the parked cars, sideways on the north side of Geneva, their four-car formation had to be cut down to two going up to Alemany. Not one stopped and ticketed the illegal cars revving everywhere along Cayuga and Geneva. Parked cars could have been surrounded and blocked and impounded easily as they were abandoned by the perps for the show.
    They didn’t leave their cars and blared with flashing lights to drive the spinning cars out of the intersection.

    All of this took forty minutes! How many arrests and impounding?
    Why isn’t this front page news! Most of the fellows who came racing to get their cars and blast out of the there were Latinos and blacks.
    Why not state the truth? They cannot do it on their own cities?
    Call Chesa Boudin and send him to run San Leandro and talk about his criminal parernts. We are fed up. Get him out and all these out-of-town perps will tru Fresno or Ross or Fairfax … that’s Gavin Newsom’s place and he won’t mind a little early am war zone action !! He’s broad minded in every way, I recall.

    Today it’s Sunday 3/28. 7:00 pm
    It started up again. Four cop cars came four across town Geneva to block any access past Cayuga. It took them about twelve minutes to blast these folks out of there.

    How about calling the crime a felony and attach a hate crime extension on to it!!! They hate any Asians or whites who live in the city. Lock up their gate and their Boudin indifference.

  2. a spray of soap and water will stop the shows. equip a special utility truck to spray the surface so there in no traction. when the area is cleared bring in a street sweeper to clean up

  3. Their owners — all from Oakland, San Leandro, Castro Valley, Petaluma, Antioch, Santa Rosa, San Mateo and Stockton — were cited.

    Anyone want to guess why they come to SF?

    Hint: Ask Chesa.

  4. Here’s the racism:
    Sideshow in Noe waking up residents, tagging homes, and ruining the streets: cops break it up.
    Sideshow in the Excelsior: nah, let ’em go crazy

    1. well that’s where they’re mostly from so yeah. So over this ridiculousness masquerading as ‘culture’

  5. Great news…. Overjoyed to hear they are being held accountable. None of these losers even live in SF – all from Oakland, San Leandro, Castro Valley, Petaluma, Antioch, Santa Rosa, San Mateo and Stockton. Impound their cars, take their drivers license and fine them really heavily. Not … Welcome … Here ….

  6. To what extent does the stunt driving response unit’s work unequally target black and brown communities?

    1. To what extent can Marc Solomon keep trolling every single news site comments section before we get a fundraiser going to send him to the moon?

    2. Unequally target? Come on, if you’re coming to SF and participating in illegal activity in the middle of the night and endangering residents, there will be (and should be) consequences.

    3. What a stupid, race baiting question. If you’re involved in illegal sideshows then there’s obviously consequences. Local residents are the ones who suffer with the noise and traffic blocking, they’re the ones who usually make the call to Police, how do Police know the race of the people in these Sideshows? This is SF, the SFPD
      is more diverse then you give them credit.

      Stop making this about race, and this is coming from an actual Latino Mission Local, born and raised. I’ve never been racially profiled because guess what? I don’t get involved in illegal activity. Logic escapes race baiters like you.