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07/13/2021 04. Street Racing f44 • 11 .( rr 11 i�O enc u nrry 1 BUSINESS OF THE CITY COUNCIL YAKIMA, WASHINGTON AGENDA STATEMENT Item No. 4. For Meeting of: July 13, 2021 ITEM TITLE: Street Racing SUBMITTED BY: Matthew Murray, Chief of Police Sara Watkins, City Attorney SUMMARY EXPLANATION: City Council requested that the legal department draft an ordinance to address street racing that is substantially similar to that of the City of Fife. That proposed draft ordinance is attached. Staff will be available to discuss the current racing law, statistics associated with tickets issued and prosecuted, as well as to answer questions. ITEM BUDGETED: No STRATEGIC PRIORITY: Public Safety APPROVED FOR SUBMITTAL BY THE CITY MANAGER RECOMMENDATION: ATTACHMENTS: Description Upload Date Type D Memo re Street tracing 7/7/2021 Backup Material Draft ordinance re Chapter 9.26 Street Racing 7/7/2021 Ordinance 2 • r_ ......,„, ...,, o, . ‘,0 ‘c;:. .::• .) „ .. .. s ,# .0 ••. .• . .„, '1+' •,11°4'PoRAr D , __ Office of the City Attorney City of Yakima MEMORANDUM July 7, 2021 TO: Bob Harrison, City Manager FROM: Sara Watkins, City Attorney Cynthia Martinez, Senior Assistant City Attorney SUBJECT: Proposed Street Racing Ordinance Attached for the July 13, 2021, Study Session is the requested proposed ordinance to regulate street racing attendance, similar to that passed by the City of Fife. This memo provides a summary of what the ordinance would allow, as well as some potential legal issues associated with impounding vehicles. Finally, I include a summary of some of the 2019 and 2020 dispositions for racing citations issued by YPD. 1. What would the proposed ordinance do if adopted? The proposed ordinance would not change the law regarding street racing itself. Racing is considered reckless driving under RCW 46.61.530, which states: No person or persons may race any motor vehicle or motor vehicles upon any public highway of this state. Any person or persons who willfully compare or contest relative speeds by operation of one or more motor vehicles shall be guilty of racing, which shall constitute reckless driving under RCW 46.61.500, whether or not such speed is in excess of the maximum speed prescribed by law; ... "Highway" is defined as "the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular traffic." RCW 46.04.197. Thus, all public roads are covered in the statute. The proposed ordinance makes attendance at unlawful street races a crime. Attendance includes watching an unlawful racing event or participating in an unlawful racing event. The ordinance 200 South Third Street,2nd Fl. I Yakima,WA 98901 P:509.575.6030 I F:509.575.6160 3 Bob Harrison, City Manager July 7, 2021 Page 2 may also designate specific areas of the city as "No Racing Zones." The City Council, based on evidence of where street racing predominantly occurs (information that can be provided by the Yakima Police Department), designate specific areas as "No Racing Zones." Those designated areas must also include appropriate signage as outlined in the proposed ordinance. The ordinance also would provide the court the ability, if it chooses, to issue a "Stay Out of Areas of Racing"order. This order can be issued as part of a sentence or deferred sentence. The Order provides that if an officer witnesses the defendant engaging in an unlawful race event within a no racing zone, then the defendant can be arrested for violation of the order, and the officer may impound the defendant's vehicle for 15 to 30 days. Here are some examples of how a case might work: Mary Smith is arrested for racing by YPD. She has no criminal record and is offered a pre-filing diversion opportunity. She enrolls in the pre-filing diversion program. She is required to attend the Alive at 25 program, which she completes. She completes all the other requirements and the case is not filed with the court. John Doe is arrested for racing by YPD. He has no criminal record and is a good candidate for the pre-filing diversion program, but chooses not to enroll. His case is charged out and he realizes that he really doesn't want a conviction on his record. John Doe and the City enter into a one- year post-filing diversion agreement wherein he agrees to maintain law-abiding behavior and agrees to a SOAR order which precludes him from participating in any unlawful race event for the term of the agreement. John Doe doesn't have any problems and completes the diversion. At the end of the year the case is dismissed and the SOAR order is vacated. Alternatively, let's use John Doe, except after he enters into the diversion agreement officers observe him racing a vehicle in a No Racing Zone in violation of the SOAR order. Officers arrest him for racing, and evaluate whether to impound his vehicle. The vehicle is registered to John Doe, so officers may choose to impound the vehicle under the ordinance, and pursuant to impound rules. However, if the vehicle is registered to his sister, Jane Doe, officers are not able to impound the vehicle as it is not registered to him. This ensures that the registered owners of vehicles maintain their transportation to work, school, etc. Mark Smith is also arrested for racing by YPD. He has prior driving-related offenses and is not a candidate for diversion. He is sentenced to some jail time, and, as a condition of his sentence, a SOAR order is issued prohibiting him from participating in unlawful race events in No Racing Zones. Officers observe him traveling within a No Racing Zone, but there are no unlawful events occurring, so he is free to drive in the area. However, later that evening, there is an unlawful race event. Officers respond to the scene, but Mark already left. His friend, however, is caught, and gives a list of names of all participants. Since Mark was not participating in an unlawful race event in the officer's presence, there is no violation of the SOAR order and Mark's vehicle cannot be impounded. As you can see, prior to the point where an officer can impound a vehicle, the driver has to have already been charged with racing. Not every encounter with a person violating the racing laws can result in impoundment—only those where a SOAR order has been issued. SOAR orders can 4 Bob Harrison, City Manager July 7, 2021 Page 3 only be issued by the court as part of a diversion agreement or sentence after conviction for a racing charge. 2. Current statistics and outcomes As stated above, the crime of racing vehicles currently exists in the City of Yakima. First-time offenders for many crimes, including racing, are offered pre-filing diversion. Based on a study that most first time offenders do not reoffend, the City uses pre-filing diversion as a way to keep first time offenders out of the criminal justice system. Pre-filing diversion generally is an agreement between the City and the offender that the offender will complete certain tasks. If those tasks are completed, the case will not be filed, but if the tasks are not completed as outlined in the agreement, then the prosecutor files the case and it proceeds through the courts. The City typically offers pre-filing diversion to 100-120 offenders per year. A little more than half of those offered the opportunity enroll, and the majority of those who enroll are successful. The pretrial unit of the probation department explains the requirements and monitors compliance. The diversion program is not available if the racing charge resulted in an accident or the driving was very dangerous. For those offenders who qualify for, and enroll in, the pre-trial diversion program who are charged with racing, and are under the age of 25 are required to attend the Alive at 25 program. This program is a moral recognition engagement program providing information about the rate of car accident deaths for those under 25 (it is the leading cause of death for that age group). Once the participant completes the class, probation let's the prosecutor know of the completion and the charge is then officially declined. Here are some statistics on both the diversion program and charges that went through the court with regards to racing charges. The diversion program takes time, so the 2019 statistics are provided (additionally with COVID there were less opportunities to divert cases in 2020). 2019 There were approximately 30 cases reviewed by prosecutors which were reckless driving— racing/comparing speed charges. Two of those cases were declined and re-filed as infractions. Of the remaining 28 cases: • All of the perpetrators were male • 25 of the 28 were 25 years old or younger when the offense was committed (most were 17-21) • 14 of the 28 were selected for pre-filing diversion • All 14 enrolled and completed the diversion program • None of those 14 have reoffended (not even a speeding infraction) • Of the 14 that were charged 4 pled guilty and 3 of those 4 have reoffended • 6 completed a post-filing diversion and 2 of those have reoffended • 2 cases were dismissed as part of a plea bargain (guilty plea on other charge) • 2 cases are still pending 5 Bob Harrison, City Manager July 7, 2021 Page 4 June 30, 2020 --- Jun 30, 2021 In the past 12 month period the prosecutor's office has reviewed 66 racing cases. Based on the raw numbers, this indicates an increase in incidents, but none of those incidents arose from the 14 people who chose pre-filing diversion. Of the 66 charges: • 34 of the perpetrators have been offered participation in the pre-filing diversion program • 19 have completed the program, 4 did not complete the program and charges were filed with the court, and the rest are still working through the program • 31 cases were charged through the court and are being prosecuted • 1 charge was declined As can be seen, pre-filing diversion appears to be an appropriate method to curb recidivism with regards to racing charges. Assuming the proposed ordinance passed, very few perpetrators would be in a position to either have a SOAR order, or to violate a SOAR order as a re-offender. 3. Possible issues regarding No Racing Zones, SOAR orders, and impounding vehicles A. No Racing Zones For the SOAR orders to be effective, the City Council will have to establish specific No Racing Zones. These zones must be specifically identified in the ordinance. The Council should work with the police department to determine the appropriate locations and scope. For each No Racing Zone there needs to be clear signage at each entrance to the No Racing Zone. For example, if a No Racing Zone encompassed Summitview Avenue, from 16'h Avenue to 24'h Avenue, there would need to be a sign on each block, in both directions, of Summitview in between these intersections. B. SOAR Orders and impounding vehicles SOAR Orders, based on the statistics cited above, may have little influence over the problem. The majority of offenders do not re-offend. Many of the offenders are first time offenders who successfully complete the diversion program. Those who complete the pre-filing diversion program would not have a SOAR order issued because only the court can issue such an order. Pre-filing diversion cases would not result in a SOAR order. Orders also would not be filed unless a perpetrator agreed to the order as part of a post-filing diversion or the perpetrator was deemed guilty and the order was entered as part of the sentence. There are specific rules with regard to tow company impounds of vehicles set forth in state law. The costs of impounding a vehicle can be approximately$100.00 per day. If a vehicle is required to be impounded for 15 days, that is a $1,500.00 bill to get a vehicle out of impound. Courts may find this to be an excessive penalty. Further, it is unclear what would happen if the perpetrator 6 Bob Harrison, City Manager July 7, 2021 Page 5 could not pay the costs of the impound. The court order would require the vehicle be released after the 15 day period, so the vehicle would be released to the owner. In those cases the City may be required to pay the impound fee and seek restitution later from the perpetrator. As such, there may be a cost to the City associated with the impounding of the vehicles. Unless the City set aside a secure area for impounding such vehicles on City-owned property, the costs associated with impounding vehicles may have to be paid by the City. Further, residents in Yakima are particularly dependent on vehicles. The City has a bus system, but if a person works outside of the City limits there is no transportation. The bus system also has limited hours. Vehicles are necessary to get to work or school, and impounding them could result in losses of jobs and education opportunities. Looking at this through an equity lens, impounding vehicles may harm those who have less money and are more reliant on their vehicles to get to jobs outside of the downtown core. There may be other equity factors to evaluate before adopting the ordinance. Finally, due to the fact that the City authorizes impounding of vehicles under YMC 9.47, if the City Council wishes to move ahead with the street race attendance ordinance, there would also need to be changes in the impound ordinance to accommodate the SOAR order impound authorization and provide an opportunity for people to appeal the impound of the vehicle on the same terms and conditions as other impound appeals.' If an impound is contested and the vehicle owner prevails, the City is responsible for the costs of the impound. 'Fife made changes to its impound ordinance to accommodate SOAR order impounds as well. 7 ORDINANCE NO. 2021- AN ORDINANCE adding Yakima Municipal Code Chapter 9.26 addressing Street Racing WHEREAS, the City has observed incidents of street racing in certain areas of the community and along certain portions of roadways; and WHEREAS, street racing is dangerous and a significant public safety issue for both the drivers and passengers of vehicles traveling on the roadways where such street racing is occurring, as well as the drivers and passengers of the vehicles participating in such racing activities; and WHEREAS, street racing is also dangerous and a significant public safety issue for pedestrians and those traveling by alternate modes of transportation; and WHEREAS, the City has previous adopted by reference RCW 46.61.530 which specifically prohibits street racing and deems it reckless driving; and WHEREAS, police officers are citing drivers with racing pursuant to current law, but the City Council finds that additional penalties should be available for repeat offenders; and WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Yakima hereby finds and determines that it is in the best interests of the City of Yakima and its residents to add YMC 9.26 address street racing, and such amendment will promote the general health, safety and welfare; now, therefore BE IT ORDAINED BY THE CITY OF YAKIMA: Section 1. Chapter 9.26: Street Racing is hereby added to read as follows: Chapter 9.26 Street Racing 9.26.010 Definitions 9.26.020 Designated "No Racing Zones" 9.26.030 Stay Out of Areas of Racing Orders 9.26.040 Unlawful race attendance prohibited 9.26.050 Issuance of SOAR Orders 9.26.060 Violation of SOAR Orders--Impound 9.26.010 Definitions Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section shall apply throughout this chapter. A. "Public place" means an area, whether publicly or privately owned, generally open to the public and includes, without limitation, the doorways and entrances to buildings or dwellings and the grounds enclosing them, streets, rights-of-way, sidewalks, bridges, alleys, plazas, parks, parkways, driveways, and parking lots. B. "SOAR" is an abbreviation for "Stay Out of Areas of Racing." 1 8 C. "Unlawful race event" means an event wherein persons willfully compare or contest relative speeds by operation of one or more motor vehicles, or engage in a speed exhibition. D. "Speed exhibition" means the operation of a motor vehicle to present a display of speed, maneuverability, or power. "Speed exhibition" includes, but is not limited to, squealing the tires of a motor vehicle while it is stationary or in motion, rapid acceleration, rapid swerving or weaving, drifting, producing smoke from tire slippage, or leaving visible tire acceleration marks on the surface of the highway or ground. E. "Highway" means the entire width between the boundary lines of every way publicly maintained when any part thereof is open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel. F. "Racing" means willfully comparing or contesting relative speeds by operation of one or more motor vehicles, whether or not such speed is in excess of the maximum speed prescribed by law, as outlined in RCW 46.61.530. G. "Violator's vehicle" means a vehicle which is registered to the violator of this ordinance or RCW 46.61.530. 9.26.020 Designated "No Racing Zones" A. The areas designated herein are "no racing zones": 1. [Need information from YPD and Council to determine these specific zones] B. These "no racing zones" include the locations listed in subsection (A) of this section, together with adjoining property areas (such as sidewalks, entryways, landscaped areas, and parking areas), if those adjoining areas are being used for racing or unlawful race attendance regardless of whether such property is a public place or is private property. These "no racing zones" shall be designated by the placement of clear and conspicuous signs at all highway entrances to the no racing zone. At a minimum, these signs must include the following statements: "No Racing Zone"; "Race Attendance Prohibited"; and "YMC 9.26.040." 9.26.030 Stay Out of Areas of Racing Orders A SOAR order prohibits persons from engaging in racing or unlawful race attendance within a "no racing zone," as set forth in YMC 9.26.020. 9.26.040 Unlawful race attendance prohibited A. Any person (1) who has actual or constructive knowledge that he or she is in attendance of an unlawful race event, and (2) who has actual or constructive knowledge that an unlawful race event is occurring, has occurred, or is about to occur, and (3) was there with the intent to observe or support or encourage the unlawful race event, is guilty of a misdemeanor. B. The circumstances which may be considered in determining whether a violation of subsection (A) of this section has occurred shall include, but not be limited to: 2 9 1. The unlawful race event occurred in a designated "no racing zone" as defined in YMC 9.26.020. 2. The person is associated with persons racing in an unlawful race event; 3. The person, by admission, is in attendance of an unlawful race event with the intent to observe or support or encourage the unlawful race event; 4. Statements of other persons who are shown to be in attendance of an unlawful race event which provide evidence that the person intends to observe or support or encourage an unlawful race event; 5. The person either operates or is a passenger in a vehicle that shares the attributes of other vehicles that are in attendance of the unlawful race event or which are engaging in, about to engage in, or which have engaged in an unlawful race; 6. The person either operates or is a passenger in a vehicle which is driven in such a manner as to show evidence of an attempt to flee or escape detection when a police officer arrives on the scene of an unlawful race event; or 7. The person has no reasonable alternative purpose for being in the area in which the unlawful race event is occurring, is about to occur, or which occurred. 9.26.050 Issuance of SOAR Orders A. The municipal court may issue a SOAR order to any person charged with racing, unlawful race attendance, reckless driving associated with race activity, or trespass associated with race activity as a condition of a court-approved diversion agreement, sentence, or deferred sentence. B. A person is deemed to have notice of the SOAR order when: 1. The signature of either the person named in the order, or that of their attorney, is affixed to the bottom of the order, which signature shall signify the person named in the order has read the order and has knowledge of the contents of the order; or 2. The order recites that the person named in the order, or their attorney, has appeared in person before the court at the time of issuance of the order. C. The SOAR order shall contain the court's directives and shall bear the statement: Violation of this order is a criminal offense and will subject the violator to arrest, and may result in the impound of the violator's vehicle for a period of up to fifteen days for the first violation, and up to thirty days for subsequent violations. 9.26.060 Violation of SOAR Orders—Impound A. In the event a police officer has probable cause to believe that a person has been issued a SOAR order as a condition of pre-trial release or a sentence imposed by the court and, in the officer's presence, the person is seen violating or failing to comply with any requirement or restriction set forth in the SOAR order, the officer may arrest the violator without warrant for violation of the SOAR order and shall bring that person before the court that issued the order. B. The police officer may impound the violator's vehicle for violation of the SOAR order and direct in writing that the vehicle be held for up to 15 days if it is the violator's first SOAR order violation, or up to 30 days for each subsequent SOAR order violation. 3 10 C. When a SOAR order is issued pursuant to this chapter and the person so named in the order has notice of the order, a violation of any of the provisions of the SOAR order is a misdemeanor. Section 2. SeverabilityNalidity. If any section, subsection, paragraph, sentence, clause or phrase of this ordinance is declared invalid or unconstitutional for any reason, such decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this ordinance. Section 3. Effective Date. This ordinance shall be in full force and effect 30 days after its passage, approval, and publication as provided by law and by the City Charter. PASSED BY THE CITY COUNCIL, signed and approved this_day of , 2021. Patricia Byers, Mayor ATTEST: Sonya Clear Tee, City Clerk Publication Date: Effective Date: 4