I do love good examples of stupid/unnecessary/baffling local ordinances, so let us examine the set being proposed by the city of Santa Clara, California, to address all eventualities that may arise at Levi's Stadium (a.k.a. the "Field of Jeans"), currently being built to become <grumbles> the new home of the San Francisco 49ers. According to Brandon Mercer of CBS SF, the proposed ordinances (PDF) will be taken up at a city council meeting this evening (March 27).
- All spilling is forbidden.
"No person shall intentionally throw, discharge, launch or spill" any object or substance "or otherwise cause such object or substance to be thrown, discharged, launched, spilled or to become airborne." The problem here is "otherwise." This can't mean "other than by throwing, discharging, launching or spilling" because the verbs are also in the "otherwise" clause. So it can only apply to the adverb "intentionally," e.g., "no person shall intentionally spill … or otherwise spill" any substance. So as written, even accidental spills will be against the law. Harsh indeed. [Note: see important update below.]
- No guns.
"No person, including off-duty peace officers, shall bring into or possess within the Stadium any firearm or dangerous weapon…." How are we supposed to defend ourselves when we play the Raiders?
- No person shall explode.
"No person shall explode, set off, discharge or otherwise release or cause to be released any smoke bomb, fireworks, stink bomb or other substance which is physically harmful or otherwise irritating, offensive, repugnant or disgusting to the eyes or sense of smell." We typically use "explode" as an intransitive verb, without a direct object ("the bomb exploded"). You could say "he exploded a bomb" (transitive verb) but that's a little old-school—we'd likely say "set off" or "detonated" instead. Sadly, since all the other verbs in the list are transitive, we probably have to read "explode" that way too. On the other hand, read that way it means the same thing as "set off," and that's redundant. I would prefer of course to read this as making it illegal for any person to explode at Levi's Stadium or to set off, discharge, or otherwise release a bomb or nasty substance. Is that too much to ask?
- No farting.
"No person shall … release" any "substance" which is "repugnant or disgusting to the … sense of smell." Self-explanatory.
- We have restrooms. Please use them.
"No person shall urinate or defecate except in a designated lavatory facility." Really? Things are so much more casual at the Oakland Coliseum. (I wish I were kidding.)
- No breaking the law.
"No person shall violate any local ordinance or state law." Federal laws, though—go for it.
- No bugles.
"No person shall bring into or possess within the stadium any noise-making device including but not necessarily limited to air horns, powered megaphones, bugles, drums or other musical instruments unless expressly authorized …." I'm pissed that I can't bring my bugle, but I can live with this since it also keeps out the vuvuzela (see Good Reason to Kill #8).
- No reptiles.
"No person shall lead, conduct or otherwise bring or allow to remain in the Stadium any animal, bird, fish or reptile, except service dogs…." First of all, I object again to discrimination against my service monkey. Second, has anyone ever brought a reptile to a football game? Did they enjoy it? How could you tell?
- Nothing shall occur in the parking lot without permission.
Nothing at all, apparently: "No person shall participate in any activity, including, but not limited to vehicle driver training, volleyball, baseball, soccer, football, roller skating, bicycle riding, or skateboarding within the parking areas unless expressly authorized…." Emphasis added. Uh, what about parking?
Tom Harrison of Lawyers Weekly brought this to my attention via his Headline of the Day mailing list, which he describes as a "daily absurdist news service." That's basically what I provide, too, so HOTD is useful as well as highly entertaining. If you want to be on the list, send your email address to Tom.Harrison @ lawyersweekly.com.
- Update: The players can do any of that but have to get permission.
A reader (thanks, Justin) noticed that the "no-spilling" provision is actually drafted broadly enough to make it illegal to play football in Levi's Stadium. The relevant part reads, "The following activities are prohibited within the Stadium: (a) No person shall intentionally throw [or] launch any solid object (including footballs … or other such items … or otherwise cause such object .. to be thrown [or] launched or to become airborne." So the forward pass and kicking game are out of the question. I guess you could still run the ball, but fumbling it would be a misdemeanor (and maybe it should be).
Luckily for Santa Clara, though, somebody seems to have thought of this. All of the above except for the last one are in Section 9.05.165(a) through (m)—that's all stuff you can't do "within the stadium." Subsection (n), which I didn't include in my summary but which is in the PDF linked above, provides that "subsections (a) through (m) of this section shall not apply to … any duly authorized event participant, performer, athlete [etc.] specifically authorized to perform such an act … while acting within the scope of his or her employment or participation." Presumably the athletes will be duly authorized to play football (and not, for example, to defecate wherever they like) before the season starts. Although, because the authorization has to be specific, maybe fumbling will still be a crime.