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Residents get riled by revving engines and car ‘sideshows’

Nobel Drive near Genesee Avenue is where loud car "sideshows" reportedly have been taking place.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Some local residents are irked by repeated car “sideshows” on some of the larger streets in the University City/La Jolla area and what they see as a lack of police attention to the matter.

“We feel like this has fallen on deaf ears,” resident Amy Ataei said of her reports of car owners gathering to show off their vehicles and the tricks they can perform near the intersection of Nobel Drive and Genesee Avenue, near the Westfield UTC mall. During the gatherings — mostly late at night, but sometimes during the day — cars can be heard “revving to excess” before engaging in exhibitions of speed, Ataei said. “The sound is horrendous and deafeningly loud,” she said.

Ataei said she believes it started three months ago when a smaller group of car owners “tested the waters” by spinning their wheels at 3 a.m. and driving off. “Since then, they have had huge meets that had to have been organized,” she said.

Resident Louise Makovsky said she observed about 70 cars during a Christmas Day gathering. “The vast majority ... were tuned-up street racing cars with body and exhaust modifications,” she said. “Not only was their sheer quantity threatening, their driving posed dangers to other commuters. Instead of using the two allowed left-turning lanes, at least a quarter of the cars used the left-most straight-ahead lane to turn onto Nobel as well. Additionally, the group continued to turn despite their turn signal turning red and the northbound lights turning green, forcing a handful of cars to remain stopped at the light. This illegal turn portion lasted nearly 10 seconds. Other than traveling east on Nobel, it was difficult to detect where the group was headed.”

Ataei said she contacted the San Diego Police Department’s Northern Division in recent months, with no apparent response.

“They [the drivers] are snubbing their noses at the police,” she said. “The police were unresponsive to my calls on Christmas, and I have reported the issue over and over again with nothing being done.”

Police Department representatives did not respond to the La Jolla Light’s request for comment.

Though the Northern Division offices are nearby at 4275 Eastgate Mall, the division serves a population of 225,234 people and encompasses 41.3 square miles, including La Jolla, Bay Ho, Bay Park, Clairemont Mesa East, Clairemont Mesa West, Mission Bay Park, Mission Beach, North Clairemont, Pacific Beach and Torrey Pines.

Twenty-year resident Tamara Milic said police were more visible in the area in the past. “I would see cars park in the late evening that would catch people that run the red light there. No more. ... Something must be done. I feel like collateral damage.”

Ataei said she also contacted the offices of City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla and University City.

“Since being made aware of this issue, my office has met with concerned residents twice,” LaCava told the Light. “Additionally, I have been working directly with the San Diego Police Department to address street racing and car shows on Nobel and Genesee.

“SDPD is aware of this problem and similar occurrences in other neighborhoods of District 1. While such occurrences are the most challenging for SDPD to put their eyes on, they are allocating resources to reduce and hopefully end such events.”

That can’t come soon enough for Ataei. “It’s disruptive, and when they went through all those red lights, someone could have been coming and would have been struck,” she said. “There is a slight curve to the street at one intersection and it’s hard to see if someone is speeding through there. Someone needs to do something because someone is going to get killed.”

LaCava encouraged residents to email questions and concerns to his University City representative, Kaitlyn Willoughby, at
kwilloughby@sandiego.gov. ◆