California governor signs bill to lift cruising ban, allow lowriders

Brandan Gillogly

Cruising is coming back to California after city ordinances had banned the practice for decades. Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 436 into law on Ocrober 13, and it will go into effect starting January 1, 2024. The bipartisan bill, one of about 100 that were recently signed into law by the governor, amends Section 21100 of the Vehicle Code to remove the section that allows the banning of cruising, and it also repeals Section 24008 of the Vehicle Code that targets lowered vehicles in particular. The relevant portion of the bill, which also addressed other aspects of vehicle code, reads as follows:

This bill would remove the authorization for a local authority to adopt rules and regulations by ordinance or regulation regarding cruising.

Existing law makes it unlawful to operate a passenger vehicle, or commercial vehicle under 6,000 pounds, that has been modified from its original design so that any portion of the vehicle, other than the wheels, has less clearance from the surface of a level roadway than the clearance between the roadway and the lowermost portion of any rim of any wheel in contact with the roadway.

This bill would repeal that prohibition.

Brandan Gillogly

Many of the anti-cruising ordinances passed in California were seen as discriminatory, specifically targeting lowriders. Cruising is typically a community event, and plenty of clubs will be taking advantage of the new changes to the vehicle code to get out and show off the custom cars and trucks they’re rightfully so proud of.

Plenty of those car clubs won’t have to wait until January 1, 2024, when the law goes into effect, as some cities have been working on removing cruising bans for years. Cruising had been banned in Salinas, Monterey County’s largest city, since 1992. That ban was lifted earlier this year, 31 years to the day after the ban was implemented, as the legislation was still making its way through California’s congress. Visit Alvarado Street in Monterey during Car Week and you can get a pretty good idea of what cruising looks like on the Central Coast. You can find lowriders, muscle cars, and custom pickups making a few passes in a loop of downtown, stealing some of the limelight from the exotics that invade town each year.

Cruising has been a big part of car culture for decades in cities and regions all across California, including Salinas, Los Angeles, and the Central Valley, which was immortalized in George Lucas’ American Graffiti, set in Modesto. We’re looking forward to 2024, when we can see more of these rolling sculptures hitting the road, and we’re sure that dozens of car clubs across the state are eager to put their best work on display.

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    “two times past the same point in 6 hours is cruising”…

    Completely ridiculous. The town I live in (not in California) you might have to do 3 laps of the downtown core in 10 minutes to get a parking spot.

    Agreed, also as a non-Californian. I live close enough to my work that I can go home on my 1 hr lunch break. If that statute existed here, I would drive past the same spots 4x in a 9-10 hr period, 2 of them within the same hour, and none more than 5 hrs apart. How ridiculous is that! Even if I didn’t live so close, merely driving to a local cafe and back on my lunch break would constitute a violation of the law. I am no fan of Newsom, but glad in this case that common sense is prevailing and support his decision. I mean, realistically this statute criminalized a quick drive to the grocery store unless one used different routes there and back. I am sure law enforcement has disregarded this for years, but still it was a ridiculous law.

    So the same state that allows someone to drag an RV out of a junkyard and live in it on the side of the road bans the practice of having very nice, well taken care of vehicles pass the same point in 6 hours?

    Doesn’t really surprise me, which is why I live on the right hand side of the country

    A shallow hollow move.

    This is the same Governor looking to create zero emissions areas.

    California is no longer the Hot Rod capital as many of the companies making parts have left and other states like Ohio and others have nearly as many hot rods and performance cars.

    Old Gavin is just catering to maybe some low riders as cruising has become more a cars and coffee thing.

    It’s not hollow to the communities who were disproportionately affected by these ridiculous statutes. I’m sure they are happy to no longer be seen as criminals in their hometowns for the mere act of driving their vehicles on roads that they help pay for.

    Few places were affected and those that were often had issues with racing. Some of this was brought on themselves.

    Kearney Mesa where racing in the streets made it a total mess a few years ago.

    What we do here is try to self police and if we are not wanted go else where.

    But the irony of all this is the idiot Gov is trying to play like he is with the Hot Rodders and the fact he is wanting to remove you or restrict you in the future on the roads.

    Street cruising also is kind past event. Most are just meeting up in parking lots and shows. Also many cruisers are getting so old many of these events are now in the mornings or they go home before dark. We used to close places down and I look around at 8 PM and everyone is gone.

    I don’t think the Governor is “playing” with anyone. This has almost nothing to do with cars, but more to do with racial and ethnic discrimination. You may have been allowed to self police, but we both know there are groups that were not afforded that. The Governor is attempting to right a past wrong, that’s it. I understand it may have limited impact on today’s world, but sometimes a little acknowledgment goes a long way. You may see this as a cynical waste of time, but I can assure there are many people out there who do not.

    what’s wrong with that? the law was stupid, the change is positive, the governor did it because people wanted it and people vote for people who do things they want.

    I’d say good riddance to a bad law – but – allowing cars to be lowered beyond the height of the rim would/could allow a blown tire to allow the oil pan to drag (worst case scenario, of course).

    If these rules were established back in the early 90’s that had a lot to do with the high schoolers and 20-somethings that did a majority of the cruising back then. You know, when muscle cars of the 60’s and 70’s were still relatively cheap and they could afford to purchase/drive em. Gas was cheap and it was all about doing some smoky burnouts and trying to meet girls. It’s completely different now with higher priced gas, muscle cars that are not affordable and more distractions with the onset of digital devices making the younger set less interested in cruising. Yep, the removal of this law is more for those former cruisers from 30 years ago and the car club folks that can afford to own and drive these rolling art pieces. Time to pull out the 68 Dodge and start cruising!

    As a teenager in the late 70’s and early 80’s, some of my best high school memories were of cruising with my friends up and down Petaluma Blvd (CA) in our cars. We’d work all week on something to improve our ride, then show it off on the weekend. We never caused any trouble, but simply enjoyed our cars and one another. It was amazing to go to the San Jose area and see the low riders cruise. What they did to their cars was the envy of every teenager I knew! I doubt those days are coming back, but it’s good to see the repeal of that law.

    I grew up in a California town without any sort of cruising ordinance, but I can see why other places had them. As a teenager and young adult in the early/mid-00 there was all kind of baggage out there. So it wasn’t the cruising that was problematic – it was probably more to do with reckless driving, setting up street races (and wagers), people dealing drugs, gang violence, and people selling stolen car parts and stereos. At least that’s what I saw plenty of. But hey, I still enjoyed cruising just for what it was. There’s just lots of lost souls looking for answers out on those streets… “The highway’s jammed with broken heros….” you know how it goes.

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