SAN ANTONIO – Michael Cooreman, a member of several local car clubs, says he’s concerned illegal street racing meetups in the city may give these clubs a bad name.
“We’re kind of nervous when we get together lately because we don’t know if these guys that are doing the street racing are going to infiltrate us and show up unexpectedly and give us a bad rap,” Cooreman said.
Cooreman wants the city to get tougher on punishment for those involved in the illegal activity.
“When you’re out here in the streets, and you don’t know who you’re going to hurt, you know in the public, somebody innocent. Someone always gets hurt,” he said.
District 7 Councilwoman Ana Sandoval is asking that the Public Safety Committee brief the city council on what actions are being taken to address the issues she sees in her district and across the city.
“People are concerned about their own safety, as well and just the quality of life. What does it feel like to live basically along a drag race?” she said.
Sandoval’s office has received 12 complaints, mostly around the Bandera Road and Hillcrest area near the flea market. She said there have also been calls near Ingram Mall.
Sandoval wants to know if police need more help to ensure charges stick when people are arrested.
Other incidents include one on New Year’s when two teens were injured while mixing fireworks with car stunts. In late December, two children were injured in a car pile-up along Loop 410 on the Northwest Side when vehicles were racing on the highway, police say.
District 6 Councilwoman Melissa Cabello Havrda, the Public Safety Committee chairperson, said she met with San Antonio Police Chief William McManus in August to address the matter.
Cabello Havrda said the Fusion Center began to monitor online chatter about racing in September and provided intelligence to San Antonio Fear Free Environment (SAFFE) and traffic officers, which has led to 1,300 personnel hours in investigating.
The investigation has resulted in 77 arrests, 213 tickets and 43 vehicle impoundments.
Cabello Havrda said city staff members are exploring ways to do better.
“They’re working on an ordinance aimed at targeting the spectators who encourage and share images of reckless drivers,” she said.
That means anyone who’s posting videos online and encouraging the activities will also be breaking the law.
Cabello Havrda said it could be the pandemic that’s causing the increase in the activities, and she understands that the problems can’t be arrested away. She said she supports other creative ideas to deal with the issue.
“I’ve even thought -- maybe we get really creative and find or build a track for individuals to partake in their sport safely without endangering the public. There’s other public raceways in Texas that have been successful and safe,” Cabello Havrda said, referring to one in Austin.
The city council will be briefed on the matter in March. Meanwhile, communities are encouraged to report illegal racing to local police.