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Check out sideshow in Manteca & you’ll risk a $1,000 fine
illegal sideshow
An illegal sideshow in the Southern San Joaquin Valley

If you’re planning on holding a sideshow in Manteca, you may want to think twice after a new municipal code took effect this week that gives the Manteca Police more power to stamp out the public nuisances.

On Thursday, a new section to the municipal code that approved by the city council took effect that formally declares that sideshows – impromptu car meetups where people circle around vehicles that are spinning donuts and breaking traction, occasionally while hanging out of the window of the car – are a “drain on public safety resources and constitute a risk to the wellbeing and safety of City of Manteca residents.”

And the new law gives the police the power to enforce the ordinance not just against the drivers in the sideshow, but those just there to watch as well – making it “unlawful for a person to be knowingly present at a street race or reckless driving exhibition conducted on a public street or highway or in an off-street parking facility.”

The new municipal code sections also make it “unlawful for any person to knowingly promote, instigate, assist, facilitate, aide, or abet the gathering of persons as spectators at a street race or reckless driving exhibition conducted on a public street or highway, or in an off-street parking facility” – aiming to stamp out the promoters of such events as well.

Those that are found to violate the new municipal code sections can be arrested and face up to six months in the San Joaquin County Jail and a $1,000 fine.

And that new fine is just the start of the financial repercussions that may come to those that run afoul of these efforts to eliminate sideshows.

Because of the concerted effort by local law enforcement to prevent sideshows – including the formation of a task force that utilizes a multijurisdictional approach to overwhelm the populated events – those that are found in violation of California’s criminal and traffic laws can also face stiff fines, jail time, and the cost associated with having one’s car impounded and held up for up to 30 days.

Since sideshows can potentially cause damage to public roadways, Manteca’s new laws will give investigators the power to go after violators for the costs associated with that damage – which, when considering the cost of repairing roadways, can easily stretch into the thousands of dollars if not more.

While the new laws will not necessarily stop the events from occurring entirely, they will give law enforcement the tools necessary to combat the rising trend that has resulted in deaths in other parts of California.

“While this will not prevent sideshows from occurring on their own, the ordinances will provide our Officers and task force members the tools they need to address this ongoing issue,” the Manteca Police said in a statement announcing the new laws. “These sideshows are a huge drain on the Department’s limited resources and present a significant hazard to our community.”

To contact Bulletin reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.