Weird California Laws You Won’t Believe Are Still On the Books

When it comes to the law, knowing the codes, regulations, legislation, and statutes that might still be on the books from long ago can make a difference in arguing certain cases, and when it comes to law research, the California code section history is one of the most interesting. The obscure state regulations that are still on the books there can play havoc with lawyers, but they also make for some entertaining reading. Turns out that California’s state legislative history can be pretty weird.

California Code Section History: Forget the Zoot Suit

If you’re not even sure what a zoot suit is, then you might be confused to hear that LA has a law specifically forbidding you to wear one. Zoot suits were made with an enormous amount of fabric. They came into fashion in the 30s and 40s and might have stayed fashionable had it not been for World War II. Because the military was in desperate need of enough good fabric for the war effort, wearing a zoot suit became seen as unpatriotic. When people wore them, fights tended to ensue. To stop the fighting and save the fabric, LA simply banned them.

California Code Section History: You Can Have a Hippopotamus in Norco for $100

For some reason we probably don’t want to know, the people in Norco, California became enamored of exotic pets. Finally, the city demanded that residents apply for a $100 permit if they wanted to keep a hippo, rhino, cougar, tiger, or even an elephant! The code does say any “dangerous or carnivorous wild animal,” but the list of specific creatures indicates that Norconians had some interesting tastes in pets.

California Code Section History: The Walnut Sherriff Has a Lot of Weird Power

No child in this city in California is allowed to wear a mask at Halloween without the sheriff’s permission. Furthermore, according to Code 1959, 4237.1–one of the oddest code sections in the country–no one is allowed to dress up as someone of the opposite sex, unless it’s just for fun or for some kind of acting part, without permission from the sheriff. Maybe Walnut’s sheriff should get busy with legitimate law and order issues.

California Code Section History: No Nukes in Chico

Potential terrorists had better choose another target than Chico because they’ll slap a whole $500 fine on you for daring to set off a nuke within city limits. Granted, this was passed at a time when $500 was a lot more money than it is today, and when nuclear bombs were a lot less powerful. Still, it wasn’t that long ago, and $500 certainly wasn’t ever going to come close to repairing the damage.

California Code Section History: Feel Free to Shoot Whales From the Car

That’s right. It’s a misdemeanor offense for you to shoot any time of game out the window or roof of your moving vehicle. Unless that game is a whale.

California Code Section History: Don’t Walk the Walk Unless You Talk the Talk

In the city of Blythe, you aren’t allowed to go around wearing cowboy boots unless you own at least two cows already. This will certainly stop the epidemic of cowboy impersonators out there.

California Code Section History: Word Order Means Things, Folks

Nearly every state has a law or regulation specifying that dogs have to be on leashes, at least in certain places. But only the city council of Belvedere, California is cracking down on the scourge of dogs letting their humans roam free. Whoever wrote this law must have figured grammar didn’t really matter: “No dog shall be in a public place without its master on a leash.”

There are plenty of regulations that are important and meaningful, but many could bear being taken off the books. This list is just proof that regulations are like swimsuits before and after they get wet: easy to put on, really difficult to take off.
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