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New bill would keep California cities from banning cruising

Rafael Perez loves to cruise around San Diego in his 1951 Chevy Styleline Deluxe.

“I grew up with lowriders all around me. As soon as I was old enough I fixed up a lowrider bike and as soon as I was of driving age I had several low riders,” the 41-year-old said.

Perez continues to pursue his passion with his wife and daughter riding along. He also serves as a board member with the United Lowrider Coalition.


He said stereotypes about cruising persist, but change is on the horizon.

District 80 Assembly member David Alvarez announced a new bill in Sacramento Monday, to repeal sections of the California Vehicle Code and make cruising legal in cities across the state.

“This is about allowing people who spent their time and talent on fixing up cars — whether those are lowriders, old cars, classic cars — to be able to actually legally drive these vehicles,” Alvarez said. “And second, that they can do this through cruising out in our communities.”

Rafael Perez's 1951 Chevy Styleline Deluxe is parked in National City's Kimball Park, Feb. 6, 2023.
Jacob Aere
Rafael Perez's 1951 Chevy Styleline Deluxe is parked in National City's Kimball Park, Feb. 6, 2023.

The current vehicle code lets officers stop drivers from cruising.

It also lets them stop cars that have tires below a certain size, and halt vehicles that have been lowered under a certain height.


Perez said some police stops on lowriders happen for another reason.

“I was pulled over 19 times before I turned 18. Not for once for anything I was cited for. It was always because I was driving a suspicious vehicle — a lowrider,” he said.

Perez said the bans in cities across the state unfairly target Latino and other communities of color, where lowriding and cruising hold cultural significance.

“I think getting rid of that stigma, getting rid of that law on the books that allows cities to impose these types of bans, also makes a statement that lowriding is something positive in our communities,” he said.

Last year a pilot program in National City gave a glimpse of what legal cruising could be like if the ban were overturned.

San Jose and Sacramento have already gotten rid of their bans.

“It’s time that we change these laws, they’re antiquated,” Alvarez said.

The bill must now make its way through the legislative process. Alvarez said he hopes it will become law by the end of the year.