Public Spaces, Parks, Streets & Sidewalks
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT ACTIVITIES ON PUBLIC STREETS, SIDEWALKS, PARKS AND OTHER PUBLIC SPACES IN LOS ANGELES
1. Being on the sidewalk
Can the police tell me to get off the sidewalk?
As long as you are not blocking the flow of traffic, you have the right to be on a public sidewalk or to peacefully gather with others on public sidewalks, and police may not unreasonably restrict this right.1U.S. Constitution, 1st Amendment; Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536, 554 (1965); Frisby v. Schultz, 487 U.S. 474, 480 (1988)
2. Marching or assembling on the streets
Is it legal to just start marching or protesting in the street?
If you want to march, protest, or assemble on public roads, you will need to apply for a special permit with the city. For related issues within the city of LA, see here.
3. Street vendors
Is street vending legal?
As of Feb 15, 2017, it is NOT a crime to sell food or merchandise on the streets of the city of L.A., however those who do so can still be cited and fined as a civil violation. But in the next few months the city will set up a system to fully legalize street vending and to begin issuing permits.2LAMC Sec 42.00; L.A. City Council motion to study legalizing street vending Follow The Los Angeles Street Vendor Campaign for updates.
4. Blocking others’ path
Is it illegal to block the sidewalk?
It is illegal to intentionally block the free movement of another person on a street, sidewalk or other public place.3Cal Penal Code 647c
5. Plants on city streets
Can I trim or remove a tree on a city street that is dangerous or annoying me?
You must get a permit to do ANYTHING to a tree, plant, or shrub, or to plant a tree, plant, or shrub (with exceptions below) 4LAMC Sec 62.169
Can I plant or remove stuff on the “parkway” strip of greenery in front of my house?
Yes, and you don’t even need a permit to plant or remove shrubs and plants, and to install fruits and vegetables there! But you can’t do trees without a permit.5LAMC Sec 62.169
6. Parks and Recreation Areas
What can or can’t I do in the park in LA?
- Sell things? Generally you can’t sell anything in a park, except for your own “expressive” creations, including: books, audio, video or other recordings of performances, paintings, photographs, prints, sculptures or any other item that is inherently communicative.
- Smoke? No smoking or vaping of any kind is allowed in LA parks.
- Can I be there at any time of the day? Each park has different “open” and “closed” hours, but when it is closed you are not allowed to be at the park.
For more general rules and rules specific to certain parks, check out LA Municipal Code Sec 63.44.
7. Drinking in public
Is it illegal to drink alcohol in public?
Laws vary by city, but most cities do NOT allow you to drink alcohol in public, including the city of LA.6LAMC Ch IV Sec 41.27(c) But in most cities, including LA, if the drink has less than 0.5% alcohol (such as some kinds of Kombucha drinks), it is not legally considered alcohol and is OK to drink in public.7LAMC Ch IV §41.27(c)
Is it illegal to be drunk in public?
Yes, you may not be so drunk (or high on drugs) that you are unable to exercise care for your own or others’ safety. It is also illegal to be so drunk that you are blocking or preventing the use of the sidewalk or public street. This is called public intoxication8Cal Penal Code Sec 647(f)
Is it illegal to simply carry alcohol in public?
It varies by city. In the city of LA, sealed alcohol is fine to carry around. Unsealed or “open containers” are NOT OK in or near a store that sells alcohol.9LA Municipal Code Sec 41.27(d) Other than in or near an alcohol retailer, while it’s not technically illegal in LA to carry open containers of alcohol in public10LA Municipal Code 41.27(h) was declared unconstitutional and unenforceable, it’s not advisable as it may garner the attention of law enforcement.
8. Peeing or pooping in public or on public property
Is it illegal to pee or poop in public or on public property?
Yes. It is illegal to urinate or defecate in or on any public street, sidewalk, alley, plaza, beach, park, public building or other publicly maintained facility or place, or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view, except when using a proper toilet or portapotty hidden from public view.11LAMC 41.47.2
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||U.S. Constitution, 1st Amendment; Cox v. Louisiana, 379 U.S. 536, 554 (1965); Frisby v. Schultz, 487 U.S. 474, 480 (1988)|
|2.||↑||LAMC Sec 42.00; L.A. City Council motion to study legalizing street vending|
|3.||↑||Cal Penal Code 647c|
|4, 5.||↑||LAMC Sec 62.169|
|6.||↑||LAMC Ch IV Sec 41.27(c)|
|7.||↑||LAMC Ch IV §41.27(c)|
|8.||↑||Cal Penal Code Sec 647(f)|
|9.||↑||LA Municipal Code Sec 41.27(d)|
|10.||↑||LA Municipal Code 41.27(h) was declared unconstitutional and unenforceable|