DALLAS - Weekend street racers once again wreaked havoc on Dallas streets, and they’re threatening more disruption Halloween weekend.
In May, city leaders passed an ordinance to crack down on the dangerous drivers, but some homeowners have said the problem seems to be getting worse.
Sunday afternoon on Greenville Avenue, in the M Streets neighborhood of Dallas, the spinning was nearly out of control, as a car was feet away from a cafe where people eat at sidewalk tables.
“There’s been lots of reports of gunfire,” Christine Cervantes said.
Cervantes lives near Forest and Marsh lanes in Northwest Dallas, an area frequently taken over by street racers.
She said police are responsive, but street racers take off and then return later.
Cervantes fears the chaotic scene, with stray bullets from shots fired in the air and illegal fireworks.
“I fear that the fireworks can land in my backyard and catch my house on fire while my kids and I are sleeping,” Cervantes said.
Earlier this year, the city of Dallas passed a stricter street racing ordinance. In addition to citing drivers, officers can now cite spectators and property owners, even seize vehicles.
“That’s great that they are adding these ordinances, but how effective are they?” Cervantes added.
Since January 1, Dallas police said they’ve responded to more than 6,700 street racing calls and issued nearly 4,500 driver citations, carrying fines and possible jail time.
In the five months since the new ordinance was implemented, the city has cited nearly 600 spectators and arrested 391 drivers.
But no property owners have been cited.
And while police said they’re still reviewing cars for potential seizure, making them city property, no cars have been seized so far.
Police add that 115 cars have been impounded or towed for race-related behavior, but the are retrievable for a fee.
Six of those were from over the weekend.
“Number one call I’ve had as a council member,” Dallas City Councilman Chad West said.
West is the city councilman for parts of Oak Cliff, where residents are sick of street racer harassment.
It’s so bad, the city is closing lanes on popular racing routes to try to address the problem.
West believes the city’s no chase policy for police has an effect.
“As a result of that, all these other cities, Grand Prairie, South Dallas cities, are pushing the speed racers into Dallas because they are not getting chased here,” West said. “The flip side is there is a safety risk for the officers, a safety risk for the community.”
Even as street racers flaunt stunts, taunt police, and call for a larger-than-ever Halloween street takeover on social media, Jennifer Gates — the council member for Cervantes’ district — acknowledges that more work needs to be done, but said she sees progress.
“We are increasing surveillance, we are getting more footage, and we are going to be able to track down these offenders. We are going to be able to get license plates. We are going to have zero tolerance in Dallas,” Gates said.
Dallas police said they are aware of social media chatter about street racer activity on Halloween and will be out in force to catch violators.