Strangest Laws in California

The Golden State was once under Native American occupation, then came the Spanish, followed by the Mexicans until finally it was handed over to the Union. Over the years, a lot of laws specific to the state have been enacted and while some make sense, others are outright outlandish. 

For instance, at one point, it was illegal for old women to show their faces when in the vicinity of virgins and the punishment for breaking the law was five years in prison. How about this one: if someone were to rob a bank, shooting at the teller with a water gun was completely against the law.

Granted, the above laws were passed a long time ago but many such ordinances still exist in many California cities but most of these are not enforced. It is easier to get laws passed than it is to expunge laws, so as a result, some very strange laws remain.

Here is a list of the ten strangest laws from the state of California.

1. Animals must not procreate near churches

At one point in time, Californians must have been so irritated by dogs and cats mating in public spaces that the powers that be decided to officially ban all animals from procreating in the vicinity of taverns, schools or places of worship.

2. Kites mustn’t be flown higher than 10 feet.

This one is from the city of Walnut, California. It is illegal to fly a kite higher than 10 feet off the ground. Children need a special permit from the Sheriff’s office in order to wear a Halloween mask. Men also need the Sheriff’s permission to dress like women.

3. Don’t put your stuff in the garage

Chapter 6 of the city of San Francisco’s building code states that “private and public storage garages in apartment houses and hotels shall only be used for storage of automobiles.” Disobeying this law means you’ll have to pay a fine of up to $500.

4. You need a special permit to hold a “going out of business sale”

In the city of Thousand Oaks, it is unlawful for any person to hold a sale of goods from the stock of a bankruptcy, receiver, trustee, insurance company, receivership, or trusteeship or to conduct such sale unless they obtain a license from the city manager. Perhaps the guides on how to start an LLC in California and how to find a great registered agent in California can help you avoid any legal issues when opening a business in the state.

5. No gas blowers on Sundays

This law hails from the city of San Luis Obispo. It is illegal to operate a gas-powered blower on Sundays. Also operating a power blower in any non-residential zone between 6 p.m. and 7 a.m, Monday through Saturday, or between 6 p.m. and 8 a.m. on Sundays is strictly prohibited.

6. Don’t steal bird eggs from the cemetery

At one point in the history of California, cemeteries must have been inundated with people looking for bird eggs such that officials saw fit to outlaw the weird activity.

7. You can’t bring a fish to the bar

The Portola Valley municipal code No. 6.05.410 states, “It is unlawful for any person to allow any animal in, or take any animal, whether loose, on a leash, or in arms, into any food establishment, such as a restaurant, grocery store, meat market or into any place where alcoholic beverages are sold, except guide dogs or dogs being trained as guide dogs.”

8. You need a $100 license to keep a hippo as a pet

In order to keep an elephant, bear, hippopotamus, rhinoceros, lion, tiger, leopard, panther, ocelot, lynx, cougar, wolf, alligator, fox, raccoon, coyote, monkey, ape, chimpanzee, birds of prey, poisonous reptile, other dangerous or carnivorous wild animal, other vicious or dangerous domesticated animal or any other animal of a wild or vicious nature in the city of Norco in California, you’ll need to get a $100 license from the city.  

9. Charging admission at house parties is prohibited

In Los Angeles, it is illegal for anyone to charge admission to a party in a residential zone.

10. Don’t drink intoxicated cement

The city of Indian Wells has outlawed the inhalation, breathing or drinking of any intoxicating glue, adhesive, cement, mucilage, dope or any other similar material for the purpose of becoming intoxicated, elated, dazed, paralyzed, irrational or for the purpose of changing, distorting or disturbing the eyesight, thinking process, balance or coordination of such person.

Sources

Code Library
Institute for Justice
San Luis Obispo – Municipal Codes
Municipal Code – Portola
Code Publishing – Norco Codes
E-Laws – LA County
Stupid Laws
The Vista Laws

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