Last 'No Cruising Zone' sign comes down in San Jose, lowrider community celebrates historic change

"It's a historic day! It is a historic day!"

Amanda del Castillo Image
Thursday, September 1, 2022
SJ lowrider community celebrates removal of 'No Cruising Zone' sign
The lowrider community celebrated the removal of a decades-old ban on cruising in San Jose with the final "No Cruising Zone" sign being taken down.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Celebration outside San Jose City Hall on Wednesday, signaled the removal of the city's final 'NO CRUISING ZONE' sign posted along East Santa Clara Street.

The "End of Cruising Ban" event put hundreds of lowriders on the City Hall rotunda and along East Santa Clara St.

"It's a historic day! It is a historic day! And it feels like the City of San Jose has embraced us," San Jose resident and solo rider Tim Carrasco told ABC7 News.

The city's decades old ban on cruising has been called 'blatantly racist' by critics who felt it gave officers the power to unfairly target people of color, because of their culture.

City council voted unanimously in June on a repeal.

"San Jose is one of the biggest hubs," Paul 'Dallas' Orosco with Hormigas Car Club said. "I mean, if you think about it, we used to have the Cinco de Mayo, cruise. 16th of September, cruise. Jazz Festival, cruise."

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Orosco said cruising has been part of Latino culture since the '40s. Adding, the repeal now opens doors for future generations to finally enjoy.

"We teach the kids, you know, there's something other than being on the streets," he said. "Get under the hood. Learn how to do stuff. You know, it's about love and family."

San Jose City Councilman Raul Peralez added, "They're gonna be able to experience low riding and the culture in a much more positive way than I did."

Meaning, without the threat of fees and fines. Peralez spearheaded the repeal effort, motivated by his own experience, growing up in San Jose.

"I never knew a time when cruising wasn't illegal, because I was 4-years-old when it became illegal," he shared. "So, for me, this has been something that I didn't even see possible initially, coming into office."

More than a legendary day for the lowrider community, Wednesday's event provided an example. It served as motivation for other cities fighting bans of their own, to keep that momentum going.

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The dozen or so women, teens and girls that make up Dueñas Car Club are friends or family members who all share a love for low riding.

National City Councilmember Jose Rodriguez traveled from San Diego County to San Jose for the celebration.

The display gave him no doubt the same can be done elsewhere.

"It gives us inspiration. It gives me inspiration and hope that this is possible," Rodriguez told ABC7 News. "Coincidentally enough, funny enough, it started in San Diego by the United Lowrider Coalition in National City, trying to repeal our ordinance."

Reacting to Wednesday's celebration, he said, "We find it incredibly important for a city to finally embrace a marginalized community who has historically been outcast, and has not been accepted."

Ricardo Cortez with the United Lowrider Council of San Jose made the comparison between tech innovation in Silicon Valley to the lowrider community. He pointed to the origin stories of companies like Apple, beginning in a garage.

"While they were innovating personal computers, we were personalizing our rides. While they were installing silicon chips, we were sealing our cars in patterns and candies," he told the crowd. "While they were changing the technology industry, we were revolutionizing the very definition of custom car culture in honoring our heritage."

He went on to explain, "This is not an Us versus Them, but for people to understand that we go hand in hand with the innovation that is born out of this valley."

Car clubs from across San Jose were invited Wednesday.

Dulce Fernandez with the United Lowrider Council of San Jose spoke to the crowd about how important the change was for not only the lowrider community, but for women in general.

"Women who no longer are just the accessory to the lowriders, but women who now have taken ownership and pride of building and customizing their own lowriders," she said.

All expressed their pride and support of the repeal. All shared an understanding of the responsibility that has been handed to the lowrider community.

Fernandez said, "Gente, we have made history. We have embarked in a movement. Let's be proud, let's be safe, and let's keep it low and slow!"

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