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WCPD, This Song’s For You

Former Walnut Creek club owner creates YouTube video in which he sings the traffic ticket blues

Many of us in Walnut Creek have been there – the dreaded flashing lights in our rearview mirror.

We may not know what we’ve done wrong but we know we’ve done something and it’s going to cost us. Matt de Lima has been there so many times that the 33-year-old club manager who claims he got pulled over 30 times in 2010 decided to take action. 

Or rather shout “Action!” as the camera rolled.

De Lima simply did what any real 21st century guy would do. He made a parody music video about his four-wheeled run-ins with the law and uploaded it to YouTube. 

Called “Used to Have a Car,” the 4:56 minute video stars De Lima himself as a clueless recipient of nonstop tickets from the Walnut Creek Police Department.  Finally, with his car towed, De Lima is reduced to bumming rides for himself and a date from his randy grandpa who can’t resist putting moves on De Lima’s girl — who De Lima then loses to another guy, minus hair like De Lima but not minus car. 

Walnut Creek viewers will recognize local spots like Tomatina’s on Main Street, the Department of Motor Vehicles on Broadway and Vice Ultra Lounge, a club on Arroyo Way that De Lima used to manage.

“All the tickets I’m holding in my hand are really mine,” said De Lima during a recent interview at a new restaurant and bar he is getting ready to open in downtown Walnut Creek. De Lima’s car actually was impounded and his license suspended due to his many moving violations.

And although De Lima rocks a Chris Daughtry vibe, the tune he croons with his own lyrics as the soundtrack for his nearly five minutes of fame is the sprightly yet mournful 1988 song “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman.  A consciously ironic choice, according to De Lima.

“I never get tickets on the freeway,” De Lima said. “But here in Walnut Creek I was getting pulled over every day. I got a ticket for doing 31 miles per hour in a 25 miles per hour zone. I got a ticket for an ‘aggressive lane change.’ ” 

Most people who know De Lima wouldn’t be surprised that De Lima turned to mass media entertainment as a way to vent his frustration with his traffic ticket pile-up. De Lima started his college years as a theater major, once playing four different roles in one night for a student production of “The Philadelphia Story.”  De Lima later changed his major to communications and worked in local radio before finding his true calling in restaurant and club management.

When he was managing Vice, formerly O’Kearny’s, De Lima wondered whether he was being harassed.

“I definitely thought I was being singled out because I was the new guy in town,” De Lima said. “And every time I get pulled over, they give me a breathalyzer test.”

De Lima also says he got lots of violation tickets at his club.

“Seems like I was at the courthouse every day,” he said. “But I’m not giving up and going away.  San Ramon is very business friendly. They’d love to have me open up down there. But I love Walnut Creek.”

De Lima also admits to having some love for the Walnut Creek Police Department.  “It’s not like the whole WCPD is bad people. It was just two police officers who made my life hard. But that was in July. I haven’t been harassed lately. Maybe I’ve earned some respect now that I’ve been here for a while.”

The Walnut Creek Police Department denies that De Lima was ever harassed. “The Police Department does not single out or harass anyone. We have received no complaints from Mr. De Lima regarding harassment of any kind. We would obviously encourage anyone who wants to complain about such behavior to contact us,” stated Lieutenant Steve Gorski in an email response to a reporter’s questions.

“Officers do not decide who receives a suspended license (a misdemeanor). That decision is made by the Department of Motor Vehicles or a judge. However, if an officer is aware a driver has a suspended or revoked license based on prior contacts with that person, the officer is expected to take enforcement action if they witness that person driving. I cannot speak to the logic of a person knowingly and repeatedly driving on a suspended license in an area frequented by police (Vice Nightclub).”

Some of the 2,241 viewers of the video agree with Lt. Gorski according to the comments section. “... drive thru walnut creek many times... never gotten a ticket.... This guy needs to learn how to f#*%ing drive and what a way to rip off a GOOD song and turn it into a piece of s*&%t”  states one.
Others empathize with De Lima.  “Great Job. Hella funny. Aint nuthin like turnin a F'd up situation into some fun ,” says one supporter  “F*&#k WCPD. That's all that they do. Tickets tickets tickets,” says another.

With the aplomb of any true performer, De Lima takes both his fans and critics in stride. In fact, his sheer enjoyment of writing, directing and acting in the video has inspired him to make more.  Relax Walnut Creek, his next one will feature his hometown of San Lorenzo rhapsodized in a Katy Perry song parody.  And there will be others.  “Every song will be a true story and each one will be funny,” promises De Lima.  

Creek Diva November 30, 2011 at 12:27 AM
I hope he can make some YouTube residuals and pay for those tickets. 30 times in one year is seriously nuts. I've lived here nearly all my life and I have been pulled over once. Never had a parking ticket either. I'd love to know what the moving violations were for. Hey Matt, maybe a bicycle is in order?
Jim November 30, 2011 at 12:58 AM
For the love of god please go to San Ramon! Walnut Creek really doesn't want your business or the problems that seem to follow you.
Kathy D November 30, 2011 at 04:56 PM
When my 30-something (with a beard) son worked in Walnut Creek he got pulled over all the time - either in his older Firebird or on his motorcycle. Never got any tickets, just pulled over and hassled. He often went to Orinda, San Ramon, Danville and Blackhawk for work and never had problems there - only Walnut Creek. I think they target certain people. Since he doesn't work in Walnut Creek any more he has no problems. He has never had a ticket and no record of any kind.
Jim November 30, 2011 at 06:27 PM
Sounds like a case of driving while bearded Kathy. You people ever think your kids were driving like idiots? Those morons we all see driving recklessly when there are no cops around are someones kids.
Deborah Burstyn November 30, 2011 at 09:56 PM
Oh but Walnut Creek does indeed want his business. And others like it. Otherwise they would not be here, right? IThere is an underbelly of seedy bars in Walnut Creek and they did not sprout up overnight all by themselves like Jack's magic beanstalk.
Mark November 30, 2011 at 09:59 PM
I wish WCPD had the resources to write a lot more tickets. Red light running has become a lifestyle here in The Creek. I, too, have been stopped for 'aggressive lane change'. It was a long time ago, but if memory serves, I was driving like a real tool at the time. Just sayin'.
Deborah Burstyn November 30, 2011 at 10:10 PM
I hear you, Mark. What burns my toast are the folks who turn right on red even when folks on the other side of the intersection have a protected left turn arrow. Intersection of Mt. Diablo and California is accident central for this. Wish we could have a traffic cop with a whistle and white gloves directing traffic there.
Paula Miller November 30, 2011 at 11:33 PM
Deborah, You are correct about places such as Vice being here because there are some in city hall who think that the tax revenue is worth the crime and crap that they bring to our fair city. I have great empathy for the WC Police Department and the wonderful (unpaid) reserve officers who must try to keep the peace Thursday through Saturday nights in the downtown area and still try to provide a high level of service to the residents. Not an easy task and one has to ask if this type of tax money is worth the time and talents of our great officers. I cannot muster any sympathy for Mr. de Lima after watching his video. If he drives anything like that in real life, he deserves every ticket he has received and then some!
Deborah Burstyn November 30, 2011 at 11:51 PM
Yes but cheeky of him to make a video about it and put it on YouTube. My wonderful neighbor Monica Kleisath is the one who first sent me the link. Perhaps someone somewhere in our fair city is getting more than increased tax revenue for okaying these trouble spots? I used to do the Police Log for the Walnut Creek Journal section of the CC Times years ago and these places were always the scene of the crime of some sort.
Kathy D December 01, 2011 at 01:19 AM
I'd buy the "idiot" argument if he had been pulled over in other places, too. Only Walnut Creek. Since he has never had a ticket, I'd say it has to be the beard, the Firebird or the motorcycle.
michael frederick December 01, 2011 at 08:43 PM
If Mr. DeLima's goal is to bring laughter to the public, he should post his TV interview with KPIX surrounding Skrel's secretive club-owners' meeting. That was actually insightful and funny! Kathy, The communities you compare WC to resemble WC thirty years ago. WC, relatively speaking, is a congested mess. As places become more urban there is an increasing need to write laws and enforce them -- to maintain order, direct traffic, avoid accidents, ... It is one of many costs of development our city NEVER considers, under any circumstances ... ever. There is less freedom here, more encroachment and scrutiny by government -- simply because that's a cost of urbanization and over-crowding. Last month, I got a ticket for parking in front of my own property!!! That doesn't happen in the "cities" you mention and it doesn't happen because of facial hair. Deborah, Don't confuse "The City Of Walnut Creek" with "Walnut Creek." The former is carved out of the latter, represents its own interests, and prioritizes its own agenda over the majority it should serve. Such agenda -- routinely, as with Library and Art funding -- involves ignoring public concerns to pursue personal ones -- as is probably the case here, as you mention. I don't think many (any?) residents are clamoring to keep Mr. DeLima and the East County thugs he serves in WC -- only a few mercenaries at City Hall could possibly find merit in that.
Deborah Burstyn December 01, 2011 at 09:22 PM
What about Mr. Lucky's? Who owns that gem? And before Vice was Vice it was O'Kearny's. Not exactly a four-star restaurant either. So if Mr. De Lima is just one more fly attracted to the honey our city has laid out for his ilk, we cannot put all the blame on him.
michael frederick December 02, 2011 at 06:57 PM
Exactly, Deborah. We don't elect Mr. DeLima to do anything and, frankly, expectations on the heels of his KPIX interview couldn't be lower. Not unlike staff and many Chamber of Commerce members, when he says he "loves Walnut Creek" -- what he means is, he "loves the exploitive opportunity Walnut Creek presents." Many of these people commute here to make a buck, PERIOD. The issue isn't really around a guy who produces jingles to attract his juvenile delinquent clientele ("Aint nuthin like turnin" ...) -- it is about those we do elect who are so beholding to commercial sponsors they join in the promotion of such goofy and dangerous nonsense instead of regulating it. Whether an establishment has "four-star" food or not is irrlevant. Whether it's business revolves around cultivating a watering hole for imported criminals that unduly, and repeatedly, ties-up police and endangers the public is. It's a question of city spending, public safety, and city priorities. I view the video as little more than another promotional opportunity to reach out to an outlaw audience. Should the agents of law and order, WE ELECT, encourage or discourage "businesses" with such a model? How valuable a commercial activity is serving alcohol to a notoriously unruly group (Police Log) at 1 AM? The City Council, as a commercially-owned institution, feels such commercial promotion has enough merit to over-ride OBVIOUS public safety concerns. I have a problem with that.
Deborah Burstyn December 02, 2011 at 07:21 PM
I have a bigger problem with high density housing approvals without commitment from developers to help pay for fire, schools, police and other public services needed by new residents. When I covered planning and zoning as a news reporter in Maryland, all heads of public service agencies - fire, police, schools, water safety etc - met as a panel with the developer and county staff before a project even went before the planning commission. Developers often had to ante up land parcels and money for public services their projects would need. That doesn't happen here?

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