The Alameda County Board of Supervisors has introduced an ordinance that would criminalize spectators at sideshows.

This proposed ordinance, introduced June 13 by Alameda County Sheriff Yesenia Sanchez and board president Nate Miley, prohibits spectators at sideshows, street races, and reckless driving exhibitions.

Violators of the ordinance would receive a misdemeanor and would be subject to a fine of up to $1,000 or a sentence of up to six months in jail. In some cases, spectators could be subject to both a fine and imprisonment.

In California, street racing and exhibitions of reckless driving are already illegal.

In a letter submitted last week to the full board in support of the legislation, Sanchez and Miley wrote that the ordinance would “provide law enforcement with another tool to stop and prevent sideshows and reduce risk” in Alameda County neighborhoods.

Who decides who’s a spectator?

Tyler Dragoni, a community member and high school teacher, says otherwise.

At the meeting, he argued that the ordinance is unconstitutional, and grants law enforcement far too much discretion to decide who is and is not a spectator.

“Alameda County already possesses the laws that punish offenders that recklessly put the public in danger,” Dragoni said. “An ordinance that could possibly detain, arrest, and incarcerate a person who happened to be a spectator is unconstitutional.”

“We already have the solution to the problem, and the problem is the reckless drivers, not the spectators. The Constitution protects such a right,” he said.

The board did not take a vote on the ordinance and will discuss it again at a later meeting.

Nibras is an intern at Bay City News through the Emma Bowen Foundation. She is a rising senior at the University of California, Berkeley, studying Media and Data Science. She is passionate about the intersection of data and journalism and previously served as the deputy editor of the data department at the Daily Californian. She spends much of her time reading and writing and is always looking for ways to support local, community-based organizing efforts.