Assembly Passes Sideshow Bill Renewal

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday September 04, 2007

With support from two key East Bay representatives, State Senate President Don Perata’s SB67 sideshow 30-day car confiscation legislation easily passed the state assembly on a 74-0 vote last week. 

The measure has already passed the senate, and now moves to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office for consideration. 

Because the bill has received virtually unanimous support from both Democratic and Republican lawmakers in both houses, Schwarzenegger is expected to sign it. 

Assemblymember Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) was the assembly sponsor for the bill, and Assemblymember Sandré Swanson (D-Oakland) voted in favor. 

Aimed directly at Oakland’s illegal street sideshows, SB67 renews provisions in California law that were originally passed in 2002 but expired in January. 

Under the new law, if it is signed by the governor, as expected, California cities will again be able to seize vehicles whose drivers are accused of violating various reckless driving traffic laws. Cities will also be authorized to hold those vehicles for 30 days, without a prior hearing, solely on the word of a police officer that a violation has occurred. 

Despite the fact that there have been complaints of abuse of the law by Oakland officers, Oakland police officials have failed to provide reports to either the public or city officials on how the confiscation provisions were handled in Oakland in the five years the original law was in effect between 2005 and 2007. 

Last month, the California Supreme Court ruled against a City of Stockton ordinance that allowed such no-trial vehicle confiscations in drug and prostitution pickup cases on the grounds that city’s did not have the authority to pass such laws when state laws were already in effect. That nullified car confiscation ordinances passed at the city level by cities such as Oakland, but had no effect on such laws passed by the legislature. Despite asking lawyers to provide briefs on the constitutionality of the non-hearing car seizures, the court decided not to rule on the constitutionality of such seizures.