Advocates of this new rule point out that communities of color are disproportionately fined for jaywalking, relative to the total population.

SAN DIEGO — In a matter of days, Californians won’t have to worry about getting a big punishment for jaywalking, at least within reason.

As of January 1, 2018, Californians will no longer be ticketed for jaywalking if they do so in a safe manner, thanks to the passage of the Freedom to Walk Act.

Despite the fact that the opinion of San Diegans is divided on the matter, the new law states that “an immediate threat of accident” need not exist for a pedestrian to cross the street outside of a crosswalk.

Khori Frazier and Michelle Perez, both of Hillcrest, have spoken out against making jaywalking illegal.

Frazier said, “Honestly, I’m for it” on CBS 8. “As long as it’s not a major thoroughfare, most people will jaywalk regardless. To my knowledge, there aren’t very many potential risks associated with that.”

And if you’re traveling the speed limit, you shouldn’t be able to hit anyone anyway, Perez said; “I think the issue is fast drivers relative to pedestrians.”

Leslie Mendez, however, claims to have a different opinion on this new regulation as a driver.

She emphasized, “Not safer, absolutely not safer.” The driver’s perspective: “It may be nice for pedestrians, but it’s horrible for those of us who are driving… because when I drive, people just cross in front of me, it’s bad!”

Phil Ting, a California state assemblyman and the bill’s sponsor, argued that people of color are unfairly targeted for jaywalking tickets.

Everyone can cross the street without fear of being ticketed or stopped, as Ting put it earlier. It’s clear that black people are targeted for citations at a rate five times higher than that of white people.

The percentage of black San Diego residents who received a jaywalking penalty in the period between January 2015 and June 2021 was 16%, according to data given by the San Diego Police Department.

Since “limited enforcement of California’s rules that are designed to avoid traffic incidents and improve the safety of everyone who utilizes our roadways will simply exacerbate the present problem,” the California Sheriff’s Association has been vocal in its opposition to this new bill.

Though Enrique Valdez, a local of Little Italy, disagrees.

I don’t see a problem with jaywalking being legal today as long as you are clever about it and glance right and look left, he remarked.

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