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Racial Justice and Social Equity

Sign prohibiting lowrider cruising removed in National City

A sign prohibiting cruising in National City was taken down to mark a symbolic end to a nearly <a href="https://www.kpbs.org/news/local/2023/04/05/national-city-permanently-repeals-ban-on-lowrider-cruising">30-year ban</a> on lowrider cruising, and the start of a long-awaited community celebration.

Lowriders were back on Highland Avenue in National City on Friday after a sign prohibiting cruising was taken down to mark a symbolic end to a nearly 30-year ban on lowrider cruising and the start of a long-awaited community celebration.

It was kicked off by Jovita Arellano, the president of the United Lowrider Coalition, which led efforts to end the ban on lowrider cruising.

“Si se puede (It can be done), and we did it, we did it, it’s done,” Arellano said before a crowd of lowrider enthusiasts, with their children, families, friends and government officials who had all gathered to watch the sign come down.

Marisa Rosales from the United Lowrider Coalition throughs her fist into the air to celebrate the removal of National City’s last “Cruising Prohibited” sign, National City, May 19, 2023.
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Marisa Rosales from the United Lowrider Coalition throughs her fist into the air to celebrate the removal of National City’s last “Cruising Prohibited” sign, National City, May 19, 2023.

Last month National City leaders voted unanimously to end the ban.

Marisa Rosales, who organized pop-up cruises on National City Boulevard in 2020 during COVID-19 and a founding member of the United Lowrider Coalition, reflected on the significance of the sign and journey to end the ban.

“This sign that was a constant reminder that for the past 30 plus years, us lowriders were not accepted — were not welcome,” Rosales said.

And it was Rosales who stepped up on a ladder and dismantled the “Cruising Prohibited” sign before taking it down; a gesture met with cheers and applause.

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Many of the lowriders that came out to celebrate the removal of National City’s last “Cruising Prohibited” sign flew American and Mexican flags to honor the Mexican-American routs of lowrider culture, National City, May 19, 2023.
Matthew Bowler
Many of the lowriders that came out to celebrate the removal of National City’s last “Cruising Prohibited” sign flew American and Mexican flags to honor the Mexican-American routs of lowrider culture, National City, May 19, 2023.
Many of the lowriders that came out to celebrate the removal of National City’s last “Cruising Prohibited” sign flew American and Mexican flags to honor the Mexican-American routs of lowrider culture, National City, May 19, 2023.
Matthew Bowler
Many of the lowriders that came out to celebrate the removal of National City’s last “Cruising Prohibited” sign flew American and Mexican flags to honor the Mexican-American routs of lowrider culture, National City, May 19, 2023.

Lowrider cruising was banned in National City in 1992 over concerns about crime and traffic, but many in the community believe it was due to stereotypes and negative sentiments against lowriding groups.

National City Mayor Ron Morrison said people were allowed to cruise, but the problem was when large groups outside the area flooded the city unannounced.

The mayor also said the city plans to hold three official cruising events this summer, and will be working in cooperation with the United Lowrider Coalition.

United Lowrider Coalition celebrates the revival of National City’s last “Cruising Prohibited” signs, May 19, 2023.
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
United Lowrider Coalition celebrates the revival of National City’s last “Cruising Prohibited” signs, May 19, 2023.

The end of the ban is still hard to believe for Chula Vista resident Ruben Covarrubias, who attended the event with his family.

Covarrubias started cruising in the 1970s in a car given to him by his grandmother, a 1949 Chevy pickup truck.

He still remembers the disappointment he felt when the ban was placed, “Something we enjoyed — doing — was ripped apart (and) away from us,” Covarrubias said, adding, “We really missed it a lot. It’s a family thing we enjoy; my kids are into lowriding; we need to have it; we get to show off our cars; it’s like our cultural way ... we can express ourselves.”

Norma Barrios, a member of the all-women’s car club Unique Ladies, is in the process of restoring a 1997 Lincoln, which will become a new lowrider. Its artistic design honors her grandmother, who was an expert seamstress. Barrios hopes to have the car ready to cruise in National City this summer.

“It’s such a joy to see this finally come to an end; No more violence, no more stereotyping, no more fear ... and showing our passion that we have. Now we can joyfully come out here and show our new generation, our grandchildren — the love and passion for this,” Barrios said.

Shiny bumpers on one lowrider reflect another lowrider at the celebration for the removal of National City’s last “Cruising Prohibited” sign, National City, May 19, 2023.
Matthew Bowler
/
KPBS
Shiny bumpers on one lowrider reflect another lowrider at the celebration for the removal of National City’s last “Cruising Prohibited” sign, National City, May 19, 2023.
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