Our local car culture institution known as Cars & Coffee has a real estate problem. It seems the early Saturday morning meets can't stay in one place too long before getting shooed away by the polo shirt-wearing, uber-zealots of homeowner association (HOA) militias located all over California's Orange County. The meet has already had to move three times in the last few years before landing at its current location in Aliso Viejo, south of its original Newport Beach digs.
And this problem isn't just local to the Cars & Coffee in Southern California, either. Cars & Coffee-style meets all over the country face the issue of constant displacement due to neighborhood complaints and - unfortunately - stupid people doing stupid things.
Is Cars & Coffee destined to be a nomadic event? Is it doomed to move from one location to another every time the neighbors complain? Or some moron wants to showoff his "sick drifting skills" in front of his "bros"? It's hard to say. If C&C organizers attempt to control the situation, they risk alienating visitors and vehicle exhibitors. When they don't regulate the crowds, though, they become overwhelmed and ultimately pushed away by intolerant local residents.
There obviously needs to be some level of control. All you need to do is search "Mustang leaving Cars and Coffee" on YouTube to understand not only why there needs to be rules in place, but also understand how one slack-jawed yokel can ruin things for everyone with a single display of level-5 douche-baggery.
And while it may potentially save lives, a "No Mustangs" rule is not the answer (we kid! No angry messages, please). Joking aside, banning specific car types, makes, or models won't ensure stupid people wont do dumb things. A better answer might be using the official Cars & Coffee website to "register" as a displayer.
No money would change hands, but someone who wants to display their car would register with a name, email, make and model of their car, and a few pictures. Then each week, registered display cars would RSVP for a limited number of spots at that Saturday's meet. Once spots are full, organizers can start a wait list, and that's it. Everyone else after that would be considered a "spectator" and can park in a different area.
To take things a bit further, maybe the RSVP list for a given week could be posted on the C&C website so that spectators can see ahead of time the types of cars that will be on display for that week. This way someone can browse the list and if it's mostly cars they aren't into they can sleep in and allow more room for others who are still interested. I'm aware this method won't stop people from loudly revving their engines, doing burnouts, donuts, idiotic attempts at drifting, etc. Usually a police presence is a remedy for that, and even then it doesn't work 100 percent of the time.
When it comes down to it, the answer is us - and by "us," I mean you. And by you, I mean the spectators and displayers. We have to make a conscious effort to not be "that guy" or "that girl" who needlessly draws the wrong kind of attention to themselves. Cars & Coffee has gone through many changes, but the one thing that has been constant is it only exists due to really nice people who are volunteering their Saturday mornings to provide a safe and fun environment for people to display and enjoy cool cars, all for free.
The only thing an ill-conceived donut, burnout, or drift on public streets does is put people at risk and provide fuel to NIMBYs who merely want to write off all car enthusiasts as inconsiderate troublemakers. Let's stick together and not give those people a reason to end what is probably one of the best traditions in our current car culture.
UPDATE, June 6, 2017:Ironically, just as we got this story up we learned that Cars & Coffee Aliso Viejo was recently shut down.
According to the official Cars & Coffee Aliso Viejo Instagram account, the event was shut down due to the "city getting pressure from residents and the property manager (of the shopping center where the event took place) and the property manager was requesting liability insurance."
Liability insurance for a public, free car meet? Is that the world we're living in now? It is a shame this happened yet again, but even though Cars & Coffee is down, they're not out. They are currently working on finding a new location. When they find one we'll let you know! Stay tuned!