For Oakland's 50 or so motorcycle groups, hosting large-scale parties got a lot harder this summer. That is because the city requires venues to apply for special permits for events with crowds that grow too large for regular security and club operators to handle without police backup.
Scores of members of the biker groups will be filing into tonight's City Council meeting during the public-comment period to ask council members for a hearing on how they can work with the city to ease or better comply with the restrictions.
Although the requirement isn't specific to biker clubs, the move was prompted by several parties thrown by motorcycle groups in downtown-area venues, including Kimball's Carnival in Jack London Square and Historic Sweet's Ballroom at 19th Street and Broadway.
The feeling among some groups is that the requirement unfairly targets the biker clubs whose events between May and August, which triggered the crackdown, were largely free of serious violent incidents.
On May 24, the East Bay Dragons held a party at Historic Sweet's Ballroom that attracted a crowd of 950 people inside the building and 600 or so outside. Another three parties of near or larger size were held, including one on July 26, during which three guns were confiscated and a skirmish broke out nearby among several females.
More at issue, said police, are the noise of blasting radios and revving engines as well as traffic congestion that a large number of bikers downtown creates.
Inside the clubs is not a problem, said Sgt. Pete Espinoza, head of the Oakland police special events unit, adding that it is the aftermath of crowds that provoked the crackdown.
"We want to have a good working relationships with the biker clubs," Espinoza said.
The City Council meeting will begin at 6 tonight on the 3rd Floor of City Hall, 1 Frank Ogawa Plaza.