Lowriders, Land Park find common ground
By Kristina Rogers
A New Year’s Day collision between lowrider car clubs and neighbors in William Land Park seemed inevitable. Both sides were dug in. Past events left bitter memories.
Now the Jan. 1 holiday is shaping up as a textbook way to resolve differences. All it took was an email, some honest discussions and mutual respect.
The email came from R.C. Thomas, leader of the Sacramento Majestics World Wide car club. The email was directed to the Land Park Community Association, where I serve as vice president. The message was straightforward. Thomas said he wanted to talk about a “New Year’s Day resolution—no pun intended.”
There was much to resolve. Previous New Year’s Days brought dozens of cars into Land Park at 8 a.m. Loud music rattled windows across the community. Lowrider celebrations generated complaints to police and city officials, who responded by locking a gate to the park panhandle along Riverside Boulevard.
Then someone brought bolt cutters to break the lock.
A day of celebration turned nasty. Frustration escalated on both sides.
The email from Thomas provided an opportunity to talk, reset and start over.
We focused on what we had in common, why Land Park is a treasure for the whole city, and how lowrider cars are exquisite and irresistible. From there, the conversation progressed to perspectives.
I explained how Land Park neighbors realize they live near a beautiful place and must share it with the community, especially on weekends. But holiday party attendance can overwhelm the area.
The Land Park panhandle, surrounded by homes, wasn’t designed for festival-sized crowds. Music played above reasonable decibels disturbs residents from blocks away.
Past years witnessed safety issues, such as speeding, burnouts and dangerous driving. Some visitors used park bushes and trees for a bathroom.
Holiday aftermaths were just as bad. Barbecue coals, liquor bottles and baby diapers were left strewn throughout park grounds. Posted hours are sunrise to sunset, yet revelers partied late into the night.
Rangers and police couldn’t manage the chaos. The solution: lock the gates.
From Thomas, I learned another perspective. The New Year’s Day picnic is a lowrider tradition. Historically, car clubs cruised Miller Park and lower Broadway. Last January, the city locked Miller Park to accommodate a homeless camp. The camp was rushed into existence by City Hall without consideration of car club culture and tradition.
Pushing lowriders into Land Park created other problems, Thomas said. Land Park has few bathroom facilities, forcing many people to use bushes and trees. Chaotic roads clogged traffic and threatened several lowrider cars, which are lovingly built and reflect thousands of dollars invested.
Thomas said clubs struggled to manage knuckleheads who created a negative impression. But after being shutout of Miller Park, when they saw the gates locked at Land Park, it was too much.
“To get respect, you have to give respect,” Thomas said. We resolved to focus on the future.
We agreed the New Year’s Day event should operate under one city permit to help with bathrooms, trashcans, road management and security. We agreed the event would be held at Land Park’s “village green” area, where large festivals and races are booked. We identified the Sacramento Lowrider Commission as a single communications portal for car clubs.
Thomas wanted nearby communities included. We proposed an afternoon parade down Land Park Drive. Neighbors can bring chairs and enjoy the cars. An evening cruise on Capitol Mall would conclude the day.
Two factors will help determine how well the New Year’s Day event goes this year: weather and city officials. We need the city’s partnership on permits and logistics, and crisp sunny weather.
More than anything, we need the positive vibes to continue. Let’s make New Year’s Day 2023 a celebration of delight, respect and unity.
Kristina Rogers is a 20-year resident of Land Park and vice president of Land Park Community Association. She can be reached at email@example.com. For information about the association, visit www.landpark.org.