Every January, a plethora of new ordinances go into effect. This year, the Golden State added new data privacy protections, cap-and-trade environmental policies, mandatory paid sick leave, and a variety of other rules that join some wacky laws that were slipped in over time but never taken off the books. In a state where “sunshine is guaranteed to the masses” and licking toads was once illegal, it’s no surprise that many Northern California city laws are bizarre. Here are a few that will make you scratch your head wondering what inspired the need for these regulations in the first place:
While it’s becoming more well-known that Chapter 6 of the city’s housing code doesn’t allow you to store your own stuff (besides an automobile) in your “public and private storage garages” unless you pay a fine of up to $500, there are plenty of other interesting policies. Some of my favorites include: a law prohibiting used underwear to be employed in wiping off cars in a car wash, the regulation requiring elephants walking down Market Street to be wearing leashes, and the rules against piling horse manure higher than 6 feet on any street corner. Of course, being a media savvy metropolis, San Francisco also holds a copyright on the city’s name!
The heart of Silicon Valley was once known by another name—“The Valley of Heart’s Delight”—thanks to the abundant local agriculture. So, in a way, it makes sense that this city pays close attention to all residents, including animals. While a previous regulation prohibited more than two dogs or cats per owner, the current laws are still targeted against cat ladies: “It is unlawful for any person to maintain, at any dwelling unit, more than any of the following combination of cats and dogs: a) Zero (0) adult dogs and five (5) adult cats; or b) One (1) adult dog and four (4) adult cats; or c) Two (2) adult dogs and three (3) adult cats; or d) Three (3) adult dogs and two (2) adult cats.” But can you have more than four adult dogs and one adult cat? The law is unclear to this layperson. Sources were also unable to verify the old law that you may not sleep in your neighbor's outhouse without permission, but I’d like to believe it existed.