criminal law

California Shark Fin Ban

California Fish and Game Code § 2021 set forth the California shark fin ban law. Under the law, “it shall be unlawful for any person to possess, sell, offer for sale, trade or distribute a shark fin.”

2021(e) exempts restaurants from the ban so that they can clear out their shark fin stock. However, this only applies to inventory in hand as of January 1, 2012, and the restaurant has only one year from that date to use down their shark fins.

So, I was a bit surprised to see shark fin on sale last month at a local supermarket.


Warning: Unreinforced Masonry Building

Walking down Murphy Street in Downtown Sunnyvale, I spotted this warning affixed to the wall of a building:

The warning reads as follows:

This is an unreinforced masonry building. Unreinforced masonry buildings may be unsafe in the event of a mojor [sic] earthquake.

I’ve walked past many buildings both old and new, but I’ve never seen such a warning sign before. Further down the block, I spotted the same warning again.

Interesting. The warning notice cites Assembly Bill 2533. Possibly not a law, but a bill. And, the other important item that was omitted was the all important session during which the bill was introduced because the California Assembly has this practice of reusing Assembly BIll numbers. So, from the most recent AB 2533.

AB 2533. Introduced February 19, 2010 regarding “health care coverage: quality rating.” Nope.

AB 2533. Introduced February 21, 2008 regarding “disability access: remedies.” Nope.

AB 2533. Introduced February 23, 2006 regarding “sales and use taxes: exemption.” Nope.

AB 2533. Introduced February 20, 2004 regarding “seismic safety.” Bingo!


SECTION 1. The Legislature finds and declares all of the

(a) Jennifer Lynn Myrick, known to her friends as Jenna, was
killed by falling debris while fleeing a building in Paso Robles,
California, during the San Simeon earthquake of December 22, 2003.

(b) The building, known as the Acorn Building or Mastagni
Building, in which Jenna worked was an 1890s era unreinforced masonry

(c) Section 8875.2 of the Government Code requires local building
departments to identify all potentially hazardous buildings within
their respective jurisdictions. The Acorn Building was identified as
a potentially hazardous building, but had not been retrofitted to
meet widely recognized building codes for earthquake safety.

(d) The California Seismic Safety Commission reports that, as of
2003, 1,413,398 people live in jurisdictions that had not completed
their inventory of potentially hazardous buildings, and 705,782
people live in jurisdictions with no program to retrofit unreinforced
masonry buildings.

(e) It is the intent of the Legislature to improve the public’s
awareness of potentially hazardous buildings so that occupants and
passers-by are better equipped to protect themselves in the event of
an earthquake.

SEC. 2. Section 8875.8 of the Government Code is amended to read:

8875.8. (a) An owner who has received actual or constructive
notice that a building located in seismic zone 4 is constructed of
unreinforced masonry shall post in a conspicuous place at the
entrance of the building, on a sign not less than 5 X 7 the following
statement, printed in not less than 30-point bold type:

“This is an unreinforced masonry building. Unreinforced masonry
buildings may be unsafe in the event of a major earthquake.”

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), unless the owner of a
building subject to subdivision (a) is in compliance with that
subdivision on and after December 31, 2004, an owner who has received
actual or constructive notice that a building located in seismic
zone 4 is constructed of unreinforced masonry and has not been
retrofitted in accordance with an adopted hazardous building
ordinance or mitigation program shall post in a conspicuous place at
the entrance of the building, on a sign not less than 8 X 10 the
following statement, with the first two words printed in 50-point
bold type and the remaining words in at least 30-point type:

“Earthquake Warning. This is an unreinforced masonry building.
You may not be safe inside or near unreinforced masonry buildings
during an earthquake.”

(c) Notice of the obligation to post a sign, as required by
subdivisions (a) and (b), shall be included in the Commercial
Property Owner’s Guide to Earthquake Safety.

(d) Every rental or lease agreement entered into after January 1,
2005, involving a building subject to the requirements of subdivision
(b) shall contain the following statement: This building, which you
are renting or leasing, is an unreinforced masonry building.
Unreinforced masonry buildings have proven to be unsafe in the event
of an earthquake. Owners of unreinforced masonry buildings are
required to post in a conspicuous place at the entrance of the
building, the following statement:

“Earthquake Warning. This is an unreinforced masonry building.
You may not be safe inside or near an unreinforced masonry building
during an earthquake.”

(e) An owner who is subject to subdivision (b) and who does not
comply with subdivision (a) may be subject to an administrative fine
of two hundred fifty dollars ($250) to be levied by the local
building department no sooner than 15 days after the local building
department notifies the owner that the owner is subject to the
administrative fine. If the owner does not comply with the
requirements of that subdivision within 30 days of the first
administrative fine, the owner may be subject to an additional
administrative fine of one thousand dollars ($1,000).

(f) If an owner who is subject to subdivision (b) does not comply
with subdivision (b), any person may bring a civil action for
injunctive relief if all of the following have been met:

(1) He or she has made a request to an appropriate authority for
administrative enforcement of this section at least 90 days prior to
the action.

(2) An administrative fine has not been levied since the request
was made pursuant to paragraph (1).

(3) At least 15 days prior to the filing of the action, the person
has served on each proposed defendant a notice containing the
following statement:

“You are receiving this notice because you are alleged to be in
violation of Section 8875.8 of the Government Code, which requires
that the owner of an unreinforced masonry building post a sign, not
less than 8 X 10, in a conspicuous place at the entrance of the
building with the following statement, with the first two words
printed in 50-point boldface type and the remaining words in at least
30-point type:

“Earthquake Warning. This is an unreinforced masonry building.
You may not be safe inside or near unreinforced masonry buildings
during an earthquake.

Failure to post the sign in compliance with subdivision (b) of
Section 8875.8 within 15 days of receipt of this notice entitles the
sender of the notice to file an action against you in a court of law
for injunctive relief.’ “

(4) The owner has failed to post the sign in accordance with the
requirements of subdivision (b) within 15 days of receipt of the
notice served pursuant to this subdivision.

(g) The prohibitions and sanctions imposed pursuant to this
section are in addition to any other prohibitions and sanctions
imposed by law. A civil action for injunctive relief pursuant to
this section shall be independent of any other rights and remedies.

SEC. 3. This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Jennifer
Lynn Myrick Memorial Law.”


California Vehicle Code 22658

I was walking around Mountain View and wondered what CVC 22658A referred to on the Parking Restricted sign.

The owner or person in lawful possession of private property, including an association of a common interest development as defined in Section 1351 of the Civil Code, may cause the removal of a vehicle parked on the property to a storage facility that meets the requirements of subdivision (n) under any of the following circumstances:

Interesting. I wonder if the sign complies with CVC 22658 because it requires that the sign contain “the telephone number of the local traffic law enforcement agency.” While the sign does list the phone number of the Mountain View Police Department as 415-903-6344, the sign is quite dated since Mountain View left the 415 area code for the 650 area code permanently on January 31, 1998.


Cuss Free Week

Thank you California legislature. The Golden State may be teetering on the brink of insolvency, but at least it will go down with good manners:

WHEREAS, On June 1, 2007, then 14-year old McKay Hatch founded the No Cussing Club at his South Pasadena junior high school after noticing many of his peers were using cusswords and foul language that created an environment of rudeness and disharmony towards others on his campus. McKay reasoned that if pupils could say no to cussing, it would be easier to stay away from drugs, violence, and pornography and turn their focus to positive aspirations and goals. “Leave people better than you found them” became the No Cussing Club’s active motto; and

WHEREAS, Upon founding the No Cussing Club, 50 pupils immediately joined and membership rapidly spread to other schools, communities, states, and countries. By 2009, the No Cussing Challenge had grown to 100 clubs in schools and churches worldwide, with 35,000 online members in 50 states and the countries of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Israel, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Philippines, Spain, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Its Internet Web site receives thousands of hits per day with hundreds of parents, teens, and children taking the No Cussing Challenge online; and

WHEREAS, While South Pasadena is not the first community to confront a tradition of rude language, for example, in 2009 Saint Charles, a suburb of Saint Louis, Missouri proposed a ban on swearing in bars, and in 2007 , hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons called for an industrywide ban on racially and sexually charged epithets, the No Cussing Club created a process to help convert foul language to charitable actions that would raise our spirits in times of economic uncertainty and frustration; and

WHEREAS, Cusswords and aggressive language are used by bullies to intimidate their victims. To counter this, the No Cussing Club offers a workbook that can be downloaded from their Internet Web site and used to assist teachers and pupils to combat bullying and cyber bullying; and

WHEREAS, The No Cussing Challenge encourages members of offices, homes, and schools to place money in a jar with a custom-made label available from their Internet Web site,, when foul language is used and donate collected funds to charity. This practice not only helps raise awareness of our wide use of negative language and how it affects our spirits, but inspires redeemable actions that benefit charities and nonprofit social programs; and

WHEREAS, The No Cussing Club has been endorsed by government officials at all levels with some creating cuss-free zones in their jurisdictions. Promoting the notion that words are powerful tools that express how we feel about ourselves and the world we live in, the No Cussing Challenge is a reminder that our ability to uplift, encourage, and motivate others and improve our community starts with the words we use and actions we take; and

WHEREAS, The California Legislature invites the people of this state to take the No Cussing Challenge each year during the first week of March to improve our relationships, to set a tone of harmony and connectedness in our communities, and to inspire ourselves to higher endeavors; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the Assembly of the State of California, the Senate thereof concurring, That the Legislature designate the first week of March of each year as Cuss Free Week; and be it further

Resolved, That the Chief Clerk of the Assembly prepare copies of this resolution for distribution to the California congressional delegation and others as appropriate.


Colorado Loves California Day

Cute. Colorado has a state crush on California. Despite California’s progressive streak, Gov. Bill Ritter should be forewarned. If our states start dating, we’re not going Dutch because, uh, we’re flat broke. At best, we might be able to muster up an I.O.U. However, so long as Colorado is footing the bills, count us in. We’ll be sure to steer you far away from Sacramento. Don’t want you to get cold feet after meeting your future in-laws at the Capitol. Between you and me, they’re a little dysfunctional.

WHEREAS, Colorado and California are both hotbeds for innovation, creativity and cutting-edge research, and have a unique relationship – sharing companies, technologies, venture capital and customers; and

WHEREAS, Colorado and California have similar growth industry clusters, including aerospace, bioscience, energy and high-tech; and

WHEREAS, Colorado has had great success in recruiting California companies looking to expand their operations in our state, and attracts much of its venture capital from California investors; and

WHEREAS, Colorado and California both lead the nation in innovative ideas about energy and the environment, and these ideas, along with the foresight and passion our citizens possess, have allowed New Energy Economies to take shape in our states, including cleantech investment and growth; and

WHEREAS, Californians love many of the same things Coloradans do, including active lifestyles, outdoor recreation and plenty of sunshine; and

WHEREAS, Colorado is often the next place Californians call home, as California is the top state in the nation for in-migration to Colorado;

Therefore, I, Bill Ritter, Jr., Governor of the State of Colorado, do hereby proclaim February 12, 2010,


in the State of Colorado.

GIVEN under my hand and the Executive Seal of the State of Colorado, this ninth day of February, 2010

Bill Ritter, Jr.


California DMV

If you have to visit a local California DMV office, make an appointment. Even though you will still have to pick a number and wait in line, the line for people with appointments will likely be shorter than the line for people without appointments. However, the DMV calendaring system is a bit non-intuitive. Ideally, the DMV will let you select a date and it will offer available times. However, that’s not the way the DMV works. You have to pick a date and time, and the DMV will let you know whether that date and time is open. Feels like playing Battleship. Just guessing different dates and times and looking for a hit.

Not sure why the DMV calls its employees technicians. If it was the person inspecting a vehicle, I will understand. But, the guy handing out wait tickets?

After you get your bingo ticket, you take a seat and wait for the announcer to call out your winning combination. If you owe money, be prepared. Unlike the rest of the world, the DMV does not accept credit cards! Cash, check or debit cards.

legal practice

Online California MCLE

Three years ago, I completed my California MCLE requirements through LACBA’s CLE-in-a-box program. Basically, for the current non-member price of $249, you will receive a box of CDs containing 25 hours CLE courses to be completed at your convenience. For quite a bit more, you can get these same courses pre-loaded on an Apple iPod Nano or an Apple iPod Shuffle.

This time around, I’m trying MCLEZ’s California Super Bundle Promotion for $99. MCLEZ offers 25 hours of California MCLE credit via online audio and video programs. The programs play through a standard flash-based player that is compatible with both Macs and PCs.


Automotive Windshield Washer Fluid in California

If you live in Los Angeles, Orange County or the San Francisco Bay Area, you probably refill your windshield washer fluid reservoir with the $1.00 jug of blue windshield washer fluid marked +32°. Even if you use plain tap water, the weather really doesn’t get so cold that it will freeze your washer fluid and crack your reservoir. However, if you are planning a winter excursion to Lake Tahoe, you should be aware of how different laws can affect your trip. First off, the California Department of Transportation provides winter driving tips and information regarding the state’s snow chain laws. To see whether an chain controls are in effect, visit the road information page. If you are using an iPhone or other mobile phone, bookmark the Road Conditions (Mobile) page. Caltrans also provides live traffic cameras, which loads OK on a PC. Not so hot on a Mac unless I paste in the URL for the particular camera into QuickTime Player 7 or WIndow Media Player. Not sure why it doesn’t work the same for newest QuickTime Player 10.

Anyways, for the windshield washer fluid, I was searching around for an under 32° winter mix. I stopped at Pep Boys, Kragen, Target, and Wal-Mart. No one was carrying it because California regulates automotive windshield washer fluid. Basically, you cannot prepare in advance like a reasonably prudent person would and refill your automotive windshield washer fluid reservoir with a winter mix of windshield washer fluid. Instead, you have to wait until you reach sanctuary, a/k/a a Type A area. That or buy it online.

criminal law

California No Texting Law

On January 1, California prohibited persons from texting while driving. This new law, found in California Vehicle Code Section 23123.5, covers activities beyond text messaging. Specifically, the section states

A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using an electronic wireless communications device to write, send or read a text-based communication.

The code further states that this prohibition applies to text messages, instant messages and electronic mails. Now, for the strange part. The code specifically excludes “read[ing], select[ing] or enter[ing] a telephone number or name … for the purpose of making or receiving a telephone call.” So, some form of text input is apparently safe, but not others.

The real quirk is the focus on text-based communication. Video conferencing? Gaming? Entering text into an electronic diary? Maintaining a to-do list? Not prohibited by this law.

Legal Research

Using a Cell Phone While Driving in California

Just over three months ago, California started prohibiting the use of cell phones while driving. However, the law allowed drivers 18 and over to use a cell phone provided that they also used a hands-free device. So, I was quite surprised to see other drivers talking on cell phones these past few days. You can’t miss the unmistakeable sign: right hand glued to the right ear while driving. This morning, Palo Alto Online reported that the CHP had cited over 20,000 drivers for talking on a cell phone. Although the base fine is $20, the DMV states that “[w]ith the addition of penalty assessments, the fine can be more than triple the base fine amount.” In these times of financial crisis, we can thank our fellow drivers for chipping in an extra $400,000 – $1,200,000 to help out the state.