Don’t Break These 10 Weird Laws When Visiting California

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A women gently feeds a peacock.

California usually is ahead of the curve on many things, like style, food, and entertainment. What becomes popular in the Golden State, whether good or bad, usually travels across the country.

But let’s hope that California’s penchant for adding more laws to the books doesn’t spread. The state is famous for its unusual and, in some cases, bizarre laws.

Don’t believe me? Let me show you a few examples of weird laws in California!

Why Are There So Many Weird Laws In California?

Most likely, most of the peculiar laws still on the books in California were placed there by small jurisdictions years ago. Legislators listened to complaints that affected groups of people and created rules to address their concerns. But many times, this occurred when the population was much smaller and the communities had fewer problems.

But a few of these odd laws have come about by environmentalists who draw attention to light pollution or perceived animal mistreatment. These particular regulations are newer additions to the law books.

Lawmakers based some weird laws in California on common sense or common courtesy. See which laws fall in these categories as you peruse them below:

California is not alone in having strange laws, here’s one from every state!

10 Weird Laws That Are Still In Effect In California

Most lawmakers enacted laws with the best of intentions. But times change, and some jurisdictions have outgrown the need for regulations on types of clothing worn, plants grown, or words spoken.

1. Don’t Bother Animals In Fresno City Parks

A woman feeds the birds in a pond at a park, which would be illegal according to a weird California law in Fresno.

Behind The Law:

Section 8-410. Disturbing animals in parks. No person shall hunt, pursue, annoy, throw stones or missiles at, or molest or disturb in any way, any animal, bird or reptile within the confines of any park. (Orig. Ord. 1076).

Fresno had some animal harassment in its past, and this law exists to protect lizards, robins, snakes, and other wild things, from intentional harm. Having this law on the books gives authorities the right to charge anyone breaking the law with a crime, thereby deterring others from doing the same.

Traveler’s Tip: On the topic of breaking the law, do you know whether or not hitchhiking is a legal mode of transportation?

2. No Cowboy Boots Unless You Own 2 Cows in Blythe

A goofy man jumps over desert weeds in a pair of cowboy boots.

Behind The Law:

Evidently, cowboy wannabees attempted to impersonate real men on horseback by wearing cowboy boots in public. Lawmakers could have put this law in place to separate the professionals from the amateurs.

After all, how could you be a real cowpoke if you didn’t own any cows? No one knows if authorities enforce this law, but it is still on the books.

3. San Diego Home Owners Must Remove Christmas Lights By Feb. 2nd

A California street lit up with holiday lights that must be taken down by Febuary 2nd to avoid breaking thist weird law in San Diego, California.

Behind The Law:

The law was written by those concerned with light pollution in the third-largest city in California. The law states that they could put up with the additional light from Christmas lights during the holiday season, but by the 2nd of February, all those holiday lights must come down.

No figures show how much light pollution these offending bulbs added to the city’s glow, but the law exists anyway. This legislation may have been about forcing neighbors to take their lights down because they look tacky after a specific date, but there is no documented proof.

4. Peacocks Have the Right Of Way In Arcadia

A peacock dashes across a paved road.

Behind The Law:

Peacocks are protected in California, but feeding them is illegal and punishable by a $1,000 fine. The city of Arcadia established an affection for peacocks when a local man imported several pairs to the town in the late 19th century.

Arcadians embraced the bird, including it on their city emblem and naming them official citizens. With that designation, the bird has the right of way when wandering city streets. That law remains in effect today.

5. Long Beach Garages Are for Cars Only

A bicycle parked in front of a garage door near the stairway up to a home.

Behind The Law:

Long Beach, like many other California beach towns, has significant problems providing enough parking for its visitors. Residential homes with garages often house those who can’t afford to rent or purchase a place to live, and who can blame them?

With the cost of living and the price of homes in Cali, it’s becoming more and more difficult for people to find a place they can afford. Long Beach created a law that only allows cars in garages.

What would transpire if someone lived in a car parked in a garage? Surely, I’m not the first to pose that question.

6. Women Cannot Drive In Housecoats

A woman drinks coffee in the morning in her robe.

Behind The Law:

One would surmise that this law was written long ago (who wears housecoats today?) by the husband of a wife who embarrassed him, probably driving the kids to school one day.

It could be she didn’t have time to dress, as she was getting the kids up, cooking and feeding everyone breakfast, making their lunches, finding a lost shoe, feeding the dog, and kissing him goodbye before she, as chauffeur, whisked the children off to school.

It would be interesting to see this law enforced today. The prosecution would be brutal!

7. Don’t Wash Your Neighbor’s Car In LA Without Permission

A man washing his neighbor's car in a driveway, would breaing a weird law in Los Angeles, California, if he didn't get permission!

Behind The Law:

Being neighborly in Los Angeles does not include washing your neighbor’s car when he’s not looking. Some assume that this law keeps corner “wiper guys” from washing windshields at stoplights without permission from the vehicle’s owner.

No one likes to be in a position where they feel guilted into paying for a service they neither wanted nor asked for.

8. You Can’t Grow Oleander In Norco

Beautiful pink oleander flowers by the coast in California

Behind The Law:

Oleanders are beautiful flowering shrubs used in landscaping all over the Southwest and, of course, in California. But as pretty as they are, the plants are poisonous to animals. Even the leaves can cause sickness.

So Norco put a stop to the use of these plants within their jurisdiction in the hopes of preventing horses from eating the poisonous flowers. We all love ponies, but if this law stands, why not make it illegal to grow coconut palm trees to keep their fruit from knocking us out?

Common sense would counter the oleander ban by stating that people shouldn’t plant oleander where they plan to have horses, and they should not take horses where oleander is growing. Individual responsibility should always trump laws that could negate good for most people.

9. No Hunting Moths Under LA Streetlights

Moths flying around a streetlight at night are under the protection of a weird law in California that prohibits people from "hunting" them.

Behind The Law:

We don’t have a clue on this one! A guess might be that at one time, moths were ‘hunted,’ maybe with tiny pea shooters? Someone must have been astonished at the carnage this caused and asked their legislator to ban the practice under streetlights.

This regulation would allow moths to congregate under said light, but they must be careful flying home, as hunters may roam the darkened streets looking for their prey.

10. You Can’t Curse On a Mini-Golf Course In Long Beach

A mother mini golf with her daughter

Behind The Law:

This law most likely came about by an offended parent who had children in tow at a family mini-golf course. The ‘professional’ players at the next hole may have been upset with a shot and uttered a string of profanities, which were overhead by mom and her charges, who could have asked, “Mama, what does !*%*! mean?”

The following day a Long Beach city council member might have received a phone call because a law now restricts cursing at all mini-golf courses within the city limits. 

Following the Letter Of the Law In California May Be Tricky

As you can see, California leads the way again, this time in terms of weird laws. We have only listed ten here, but there are dozens and dozens more. Some of the most peculiar laws that should have been taken off the books years ago aren’t enforced.

But beware, if you don’t stop for a peacock in Arcadia, you might lose a chunk of change with a nasty fine!

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