The organizers call them “events.” The LAPD calls them “street takeovers.” Residents and businesses just call them dangerous.
A series of organized car meet-ups in the west valley has caused concern with homeowners, city officials and police.
One group, calling itself Midnight Therapy or California Cars Official, organized one such event last week at El Camino Shopping Center.
Hundreds of people and dozens of cars congregated in the parking lot, creating havoc and a lot of loud noise.
“It happens very frequently, everyone just popping their exhaust sounds like loud gunshots. Normally when that happens, we have the
helicopter over all these houses for 30 to 45 minutes,” neighboring resident Cooper Sawyer told CBS Los Angeles.
Midnight Therapy’s Instagram posts ask that car owners, “Please enter and leave the location quietly and peacefully to avoid issues with the local police. No revving, obnoxious behavior, burnouts, drifting or racing will be tolerated. Violators will be asked to leave and will not be re-invited to future events. Please drive respectfully and follow all traffic laws.”
The problem is that Midnight Therapy, which has 40,000 followers on Instagram, uses social media to announce their events, and has no control over who shows up or what they do.
The so-called “park and chill” rallies may start innocently, but looking at news reports of other “takeovers” you can see instances where cars spin out of control and either crash or hit onlookers, which is why the police, and local City Councilman Bob Blumenfield, are concerned.
Blumenfield started a task force last year so LAPD could focus on street racing, especially on the west valley’s long boulevards, which lend themselves to races or speed chases. He inaugurated the task force with an initial $100,000, and just recently donated another $100,000 to the cause.
Blumenfield is also working with state reps and has generated a bill at the state level so those caught racing get more than a “slap on the wrist.” “We can’t provide the tools at the city level, we’re giving it to the state,” he told the Woodland Hills Homeowners Organization on Wednesday night.
The new law, AB74, would define street takeovers, impose additional penalties on drivers, and expand the LAPD’s ability to seize and impound cars. That would actually cause anyone caught racing to lose their car. “It just keeps being allowed to happen all the time with no repercussions. It just gets bigger – street takeovers happen all the time,” said Sawyer.
At the incident on January 16, LAPD responded to the disturbance call about El Camino and dispersed the group. There was no damage caused to the property, no roads blocked and no crashes from the takeover, so no citations were issued.
The cars that were made to leave, however, just moved over to the Home Depot parking lot in Woodland Hills, where officers again had to break up the crowd.
These massive takeovers wake the neighbors, block retailers and worry most residents. One lone resident, however, said that, “They’re burning off steam by burning rubber. I don’t see the harm in that.”
Most of those that live and work adjacent to where these groups congregate beg to differ. The events can go on until midnight (hence the name) and the noise factor alone is disturbing, and the potential for danger is worrisome – and proven.
In 2022, Malibu restaurateur Andrea Bullo and his son were killed right next to El Camino Shopping Center when a speeding car slammed into his while stopped at the light.
Blumenfield insists that stronger legislation and more oversight is imperative.
“The key is to take away their toys. The threat of that is a bigger deterrent,” he said.