California, the Land of Dreams, both real and manufactured, has always been recognized as a place where things are done a bit “differently”. The wonderful climate, the incredible landscape from North to South, the diversity of people, and the lure of making it big in the entertainment industry have been attracting people for decades. In California, the Go West, Young Man attitude reaches the end of the trail.
Sometimes referred to as the Peoples’ Republic of California or the Nexus of Strange, the Golden State doesn’t disappoint when it comes to the array of strange laws on its books.
For example, women may not drive while dressed in a housecoat. Lingerie, underwear, and bling-laden jumpsuits are fine, especially on Rodeo Drive. But, if you’ve unwittingly run out of coffee in the morning, make sure you’re not dressed in your housecoat when you head out to the local Starbucks.
To continue down that road, no vehicle without a driver may exceed 60 miles per hour. Besides vehicles in an Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi movie and Google Map cars, I’m not quite sure who this law is targeted at. I think what bothers the authorities most is, if a driverless car exceeds the speed limit, who gets the ticket?
Other California anti-road hazard laws still on the books include:
- A law in Redlands which states a motor vehicle may not drive on city streets unless a man with a lantern is walking ahead of it.
- In San Diego, it is illegal to shoot jackrabbits from the back of a streetcar. However, if the conductor has a good shot, he can take it.
- And in Long Beach, cars are the only items allowed to be stored in a garage.
If it was just crazy road rules, that would be one thing. But California has a whole arsenal of off the wall regulations:
- Prison workers in California will not be allowed to have sex with inmates anymore. The operative word there is anymore. Does that mean it was legal at one time? Guess that was one way to get out early for good behavior.
- Film and advertising producers are required to obtain a release from a pediatrician if an infant less than one-month old is going to be filmed.
- Animals are prohibited from mating in public within 1,500 feet of a bar, a school, or a church. No mention is made though if people are still allowed mate in their cars in the parking lot of the bar after closing time.
- It’s is against the rules to allow a phone to ring in state offices more than nine times. State workers are taught to let it ring eight times, pick the call up just before the ninth ring, and immediately put the call on eternal hold to avoid breaking the rules.
- Arcadia – Drivers must yield to peacocks crossing a street or driveway.
- Baldwin Park – Absolutely no one is permitted to ride a bicycle in a swimming pool.
- Belvedere – An ordinance passed by City Council states “No dog shall be in a public place without its master on a leash.” Cats, however, can allow their masters to roam around freely because that’s just how cats are.
- Blythe – City regulations state that wearing cowboy hats is prohibited unless you own at least two cows. No Yippie Ki Yay in Blythe unless you know how to milk a cow.
- Burlingame – It is illegal to spit. The exception is on the baseball field. Everyone knows a ball player just can’t play right if he or she can’t spit.
- Carmel – It’s illegal for a male to walk the streets wearing jackets and pants that don’t match.
- Women are not permitted to wear high heels within the city limits.
- And, a crazy law that was rescinded when Clint Eastwood became mayor forbade anyone from eating ice cream on the sidewalk.
- Los Angeles County – You must obtain a life guard’s permission to play Frisbee or throw a football on any of the county’s seventeen beaches.
- A man can legally beat his wife, but the belt cannot be more than two inches wide. However, the wife does have the option of allowing the husband to use a wider belt, but that permission must be verified in advance.
- It’s against the law to bathe two babies at the same time in the same tub.
- It is against the law to cry when you’re on the witness stand in court.
- Palm Springs – Between the hours of 4:00 PM and 6:00 PM, you cannot legally walk down Palm Canyon Drive with a camel. Ostriches are still permitted.
- Portola – Fishing from an overpass is illegal in the city. Especially if it’s over an Interstate. And, if you do catch a fish, it is against the law to carry it into a bar. Sounds a bit fishy to me.
- Pasadena – A secretary is not allowed to be in a room alone with her boss. Probably a result of not culling the lawyer population in Pasadena.
- Prunedale – A house may not have two bathtubs installed. Want to bathe? Take a number and stand in line.
- Redwood City – It’s against the law to own a reptile or monkey. In San Jose, it’s illegal to own more than two cats or dogs, but there is no limit on reptiles or monkeys.
- Santa Monica – You are prohibited from playing any percussion instrument on the beach. The National Drum Circle on the Beach Association – after all, it is California – has been beating on this law for years.
- San Diego – People who leave their Christmas lights up past February 2 could be subject to a $250 fine. The city prefers its palm trees to be au natural.
- Ventura County – Cats and dogs are prohibited from having sex unless they have a permit. I would have thought that would take an Act of God for dogs and cats to have sex, but I guess the county knows more than I do.
After seeing some of the strange laws still on the books, those of you who feel California is the Global Hub of Legal Weirdness just may be right.