Advice: No parties with hippos and other obscure

Nabil Anas

Global Courant

Article 53.49 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code is a classic of legal syntax and unnecessary verbosity. It appears on a sign outside my local public library branch and reads:

It is unlawful for the owner or person having custody of a dog to fail to promptly remove and dispose of any feces shed by such dog in a hygienic manner by placing them in a closed or sealed container. place and deposit in a waste bin on public or private property without the consent of the public or private owner or person lawfully in possession of the property, excluding property owned or controlled by the owner or person having custody of such a dog The provisions of this paragraph shall not apply to a blind person accompanied by a guide dog.”

Were the lawyers who wrote that paid per word?

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Does a dog really “deposit” feces?

Is there an conceivable scenario where someone would ask permission to leave their dog’s feces on someone else’s property?

Opinion columnist

Nicholas Goldberg

Nicholas Goldberg served as editor of the editorial page for 11 years and is a former editor of the Op-Ed page and Sunday Opinion section.

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I’m not a lawyer, but if I were in charge, the sign would simply say “Clean up after your dog,” with perhaps an additional note that it’s illegal not to.

Still, I was curious when I came home from the library the other day. Was the city’s municipal code more fun than I had previously realized? Was there more entertaining gobbledygook or was section 53.49 an outlier?

LA city code, for those who don’t know, is the compendium of the city’s regulatory and criminal ordinances. Violations can get you fined or even thrown in jail. It was first approved in 1936, although some provisions go back further. It has been constantly modified and consists of about six volumes.

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I flipped through the code – online, of course – to Section 53, and to be honest, I couldn’t stop reading. It’s the part of the code that deals with ‘animals and birds’. Other sections deal with issues such as public health, welfare, zoning plans, businesses and traffic. But I stayed with animals and birds.

Just a few items away from section 53.49, I came across Article 53.47which says:

“No one shall give a stallion or a horse to a mare, or a bull to a cow, or a boar to a sow, or leave a dog to a bitch, or give a goat to a goat-sitter, except within an enclosure so set up that such animals be completely hidden from the view of all persons outside such enclosure.”

For a second or two I wasn’t sure what was meant by “renting out.” What were the leaders of our city trying to hide behind a fence? But then the light went on.

Does this actually belong in the code? As far as I know, there is currently no crisis where boars and sows copulate in public and offend Angelenos’ sensibilities. Besides, haven’t generations of Americans learned sex by watching animals do it on the farm? Was that so bad? No doubt this ordinance was passed at the behest of some Ron DeSantis from the previous era, hoping to end barnyard sex addicts.

In any case, the rule dates back to the original municipal code of 1936, according to the helpful librarians of the LA Law Library. And possibly well before that.

It is undoubtedly one of many provisions that are no longer relevant or enforced, but remain on the books because no one has bothered to remove them.

Another part of the code prohibits feeding pigeons – but not everywhere in the city. Only here:

“Beginning at the intersection of the First Street centerline with the Los Angeles Street centerline; thence southwest along the centerline of Los Angeles Street to the centerline of Eighth Street; thence in a northwesterly direction along the centerline of Eighth Street to the centerline of Main Street; thence in a southwesterly direction along the Main Street centerline to the Ninth Street centerline; thence in a northwesterly direction along the Ninth Street centerline to the Olive Street centerline; thence in a northeasterly direction along the centerline of Olive Street to the centerline of Eighth Street; thence in a northwesterly direction…”

The no-feeding zone goes on for another hundred words, past 9th, Flower, and Figueroa, then back to Olive, to 1st, and back to Los Angeles Street.

I realize that precision and specificity are essential to the law, so I won’t complain about that. But why am I forbidden to feed a pigeon on Olive and 4th, but can I do so with impunity on Grand and 4th? Has an influential Grand Street pigeon feeder lobby privileged itself, or are the rules merely arbitrary?

A few more lines from the code:

—Bullfights are illegal in LA

—It is illegal to sell ducklings less than four weeks old in quantities less than six.

—Wild, exotic or dangerous animals may not be exhibited at house parties or noisy or unruly gatherings.

Which animals does the city consider wild, exotic or dangerous? The code specifies hippos, rhinos, moose, giraffes, baboons, and reptiles over 8 feet in length, among others.

So if you live in the city of LA and you have a hippo and you’re planning an unruly party, consider yourself warned.

While you’re at it, if you’re taking it out, you might want to bring a really big sealed container to clean up any mess it might leave on a neighbor’s property. Unless you’re blind, in which case you can just ignore it.


Advice: No parties with hippos and other obscure

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