How To Celebrate The Fourth Of July In California

How To Celebrate The Fourth Of July In California

With the Fourth of July right around the corner, many people are getting ready for quite a show. Everyone knows that America’s Independence Day is celebrated with fireworks. These colorful controlled explosives will be lighting up the night and filling the air with a never ending sound of thunder. A good Fourth of July fireworks show is quite a sight to behold.

There are thousands of options to choose from when it comes to seeing a fireworks display, many Americans prefer to put on their own show. Not only does this let them control the action, it lets them be a part of everything.

While this sounds great, it can also be dangerous. Thousands of homes are set on fire every year by personal fireworks. This has led to some state being more restrictive with fireworks than others. California is definitely one of the stricter states, and for arguably good reasons.

The Laws And Why They Exist

As a state that is famous for getting multiple wildfires a year, it is understandable why there are some regulations against fireworks. As fun as fireworks are, they are still explosives with the potential to be dangerous. It is very easy for someone to injure themselves, another person, or cause a fire with fireworks. In order to reduce all of those risks, the state of California tightly regulates fireworks.

Within the state of California, all fireworks are classified into one of two groups:

  • Safe and sane
  • Dangerous

Safe and sane fireworks can be used by any legal adult, provided it is permitted in the city or area. Many places in California have outlawed the use or sale of state approved fireworks in order to prevent fires caused reckless use of the explosives.

All safe and sane fireworks will come with a seal from the office of the California State Fire Marshall showing that they are permitted for public use. Due to state law, these kinds of fireworks can only be purchased from June 28th to July 6th from a stationary vendor. After that set timeframe, all public fireworks sales within the state come to a halt. This is due to a state law which limits the sale of safe and sane fireworks.

Dangerous fireworks cannot be sold to the general public. These are the kind of fireworks that one would see if they went to a professional fireworks display. Only licensed professionals are allowed to purchase, transport, and set of these kinds of fireworks within the state of California.

Breaking most fireworks safety laws can result in a misdemeanor charge. The penalties can include:

  • Up to one year in jail.
  • A maximum fine of $1,000.
  • Some combination of the two.

How To Handle Fireworks Safely

One should never forget that fireworks can be dangerous if misused or handled improperly. A person needs to be very responsible when using fireworks, which is why only legal adults are allowed to use dangerous fireworks. In order to buy or use any safe and sane fireworks, that’s anything one could buy from a fireworks stand, a person has to be over the age of 16. Giving a minor under the age of 16 fireworks is illegal, and can result in a misdemeanor charge.

When it comes to setting off fireworks, there are a few things that a person should always do to ensure everyone’s safety.

  • Have a bucket of water close by to dispose of used fireworks. By soaking the fireworks after use, they are prevented from going off again if they were not finished.
  • Always have a hose connected to a water source ready to go in case of a fire. Hopefully this won’t be needed, but just in case.
  • Never throw or point fireworks at people. They are explosives and they can hurt someone.
  • Never use fireworks near dry grass or other flammable materials. These can easily alight and start to burn out of control.
  • Never use fireworks under a roof. The roof can be manmade, or a natural one such as under a tree.
  • If a firework is a dud, do not attempt to fix it or set it off again. Doing so is an easy way to have a firework explode in someone’s face.
  • Always be aware of local laws. Fireworks laws frequently vary by community, so a person will need to do some research before setting off any fireworks.

Pets And Fireworks

While we humans love to watch fireworks and listen to them explode, our pets don’t really enjoy them. Pets don’t understand fireworks very well, and as such, some can get very frightened by the loud explosions and the bright colored lights. It is important to remember this, and consider a pet’s needs this Fourth of July.

For dogs, prep work can start earlier in the day. Take dog for a long walk so they will have less energy to devote to being scared that evening. On top of that, create a safe space for pets that is away from windows so that the pet has a nice, comforting place to sleep. Close blinds and curtains while leaving lights and a radio or TV on. This will help keep out flashing lights and help muffle the sounds of the explosions. If the pet has to stay outside, double check that all gates and the fence are secure.

Lastly, try to keep the pet distracted with toys and treats, and don’t make a big deal about the fireworks going off. Doing so could reinforce the scared behavior and make things worse.

Happy Fourth Of July!

The Fourth of July is meant to be a fun holiday, and it truly can be. Just be sure to follow the laws and keep everyone happy and safe. This includes pets, of course. After all, nobody wants to end up on the news because they set someone’s house on fire.

Happy Independence Day everyone!


Cycling In Los Angeles: Rules Of The Road

Cycling In Los Angeles: Rules Of The Road

Not only does using a bicycle mean decrease the carbon footprint you leave during your daily commute, most people find that riding a bike is often an easier and faster way to commute in Los Angeles. As a cyclist, there are a few rules you should be aware of before you jump on your bike and start pedaling to work.

1. Drivers have to respect your right to be on the road

You have just as much right to bike to work as motorist have to drive to work. According to the AB-1371-California Statutes, which was passed into law n September 2013, drivers are required to maintain a safe distance between their car and a bicyclist when they pass the person on a bicycle. The distance must be a minimum of 3 feet between the bike and the car. The one exception to this is if the car driver slows down and take extra precautions to make sure not to hit the biker.

2. You must follow the flow of traffic

Bicyclists are not allowed to ride against the flow of traffic. While going against the flow of traffic might be the fastest way for you to get to your destination, it also increases the risk of you getting seriously hurt in a car/bike accident.

In addition to being required to go with the flow of the traffic, cyclists are also required to stick to the right side of the road. There are exceptions to this rule such as making a left turn, riding on a narrow road or a one-way street, or if the road is under construction.

3. Car drivers are responsible for car doors

One of the most common accidents between drivers and cyclists is accidents involving car doors. LA lawmakers passed Cal. Vehicle Code 22517, which requires the driver and other occupants in the car to look and confirm that there aren’t any cyclist close by before they open the doors. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t look where you’re going, if you’re far back when the car door opens and you crash into it because you weren’t paying attention, you’ll be the one the police consider responsible for the accident.

4. Don’t drink and cycle

Don’t assume that just because you’re riding a bike rather than driving a vehicle, that you don’t have to worry about how much you drink when you’re out on the town. You do. Cal. Vehicle Code 23152 states that when used for commuting, a bicycle is a vehicle, which means that if an LAPD officer pulls you over, they can arrest you and charge you with a DUI.

When you and the drivers in Los Angeles watch out for one another and obey the traffic laws, you’ll find that there’s plenty of room on the streets for everyone.

2018: What Happened So Far

2018: What Happened So Far

We are halfway through the year and we’ve already had an eventful year. It feels like it was just yesterday we were ushering in the new year. We had hopes and dreams that 2018 would be better than the previous year. We had New Year’s resolutions that were supposed to transform ourselves for the better. Yet here we are, halfway through the year, and we’re all pretty much the same.

We may have changed differently than how we expected. We set forth goals at the beginning of the year, but plans might have changed. We may have thought we’d go to the gym more, do more acts of kindness, and eat a few more salads. If we’re being honest we probably went to the nearest In-N-Out Burger the third week of January. Work, school, or drama dragged us into projects. We struggled, but we made it this far. We’ve grown in ways we didn’t think possible.

As a society we’ve witnessed horrible incident happening to innocent people. On February 14th, as nation we suffered an unspeakable act against humanity. The Parkland shooting in Florida reminded us that we have a long road ahead when it comes to protecting each other on our home turf. As a result we’ve experienced a giant movement in our educational system.

The education in our nation has been under fire. Unfortunately, it seemed to take a tragedy to ignite a fire to ask for a better system from our government. School protests popped up all over the country asking the government to do something to help protect students. Thousands protested about the gun violence. From asking for protection, the protests turned into just asking for more for our education. Teachers began walking out for pay raises and more school funding. States like Arizona, Oklahoma, and Vermont had massive teacher protests.

From tragedies to protests to walk-outs, we’ve experienced a lot this first half of the year. We even survived President Trump coming to visit California. This first half of the year we’ve also seen some good, like the Winter Olympics and the Korean War coming to an end. They say it’s never too late to chase your dreams and goals. It’s not too late for us to turn this year around. Get back to eating salads and starting thinking positive thoughts. This can still be your year to shine.

The Bully Epidemic

The Bully Epidemic

W.D. Ross was a man who believed that we as humans had a duty to do the morally right thing. He created the seven prima facie duties that we could use to help determine if we were on the “right path”. For some of us, the right path can be unclear. While others may see the world as black and white, some see the world in many varying shades of gray.

One of Ross’ prima facie duties is of beneficence. This particular duty is about doing well to others. It’s about bettering the human condition in which we are all affected by. The prima facie duty of beneficence is about harm prevention. In order to live by Ross’ prima facie duties, one must go down the morally right path. This means we must acknowledge that we shouldn’t harm others.

Bullying has been an issue throughout the ages, but has gotten worse in today’s world. The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey finds that 16% of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past. In today’s world, bullying is creative and can be part of the victim’s daily life.

The National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics indicates that 6% of students in grades 6–12 experienced cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is when one person verbally or mentally, attacks another person through social media.

Cyberbullying is morally wrong.

When bullies are harming others online, they are not following the prima facie duty of beneficence. When a kid/teenager is being bullied online, they are often bullied in person as well. This makes it harder for the victim to get away from the bully or harassment.

The problem is that this is not just the pecking order or how to give kids “tougher” skin. This is a serious issue because bullying leads to suicide. “It is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, surpassed only by homicide and accidents,” according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. As family members, we should be concerned about loved ones around us. We need to be involved with them so that we can notice if they are being bullied.

Being aware of the issue of bullying is one thing, but taking action is another.

If you suspect that someone is being bullied, don’t just sit there and let it happen. Report it to a trusted individual and work to put an end to the problem. If more people step up and work together to stop bullying, we could put an end to this epidemic.

Wine About It

Wine About It

Life is stressful and a wise meme once said that a glass of wine a day keeps the doctor away. Of course if you’re drinking wine, you should definitely be 21 or older and you should not be operating any kind of vehicle. Wine is a blessing at the end of the day. It’s almost like a warm cup of milk, except its fruitiness sings you to sleep. It’s also a super familiar beverage here in California because of the Wine Country that we have.

Wine Country in California goes hand in hand like champagne and France do. You can expect amazing wine tours in California like in Malibu, or go wine tasting in Napa Valley. Sipping fine wine is easy to do in California because of all the places that create their own wines. Creating a fine wine is a process and takes time. The best wineries usually grow their grapes locally and let’s face it, as Californians, we love keeping things local.

Wine tours in California can be a great escape. They usually take you through the process of growing the grape to creating wine itself. They also allow you to taste wine while exploring the vineyard. Some of the more popular wine tasting tours around are:

  • Napa and Sonoma Wine Country Tour
  • Napa Valley Hot-Air-Balloon Ride with Wine
  • Napa Valley Wine Train
  • Muir Woods Wine Town and Ferry
  • San Francisco Super Saver
  • Malibu Wine Safari

Wine is some people’s best friend, in a non-alcoholic way. After a long week at work or a stressful family event, sipping on a glass of wine is what some folks look forward to. Wine is one of those beverages that you have to sip. You can’t just down it. It is a slow drink, one that helps you relax. You can whine to your wine glass about your struggles.

Friends and family can gather around a good bottle of wine. It can be paired up with cheese, chocolate, and other meals. It goes hand and hand with most fancy dinners. The right bottle of wine can help loosen up a tough crowd. Don’t under estimate the power of a good bottle. With that being said, drinking too much wine will get you drunk just like drinking too much beer. It doesn’t matter how classy the drink is, when it has an alcohol content, you can get drunk from drinking too much.

If you find yourself drunk off the grapes, don’t drive home. Call a cab or give your keys to a sober friend. Drinking wine and driving is against the law, which can land you with a DUI or in car accident. DUIs can be a nasty ticket or land you in the drunk tank. If you manage to get into a car accident, your choice to drive could cost someone else their life.

California bring its residents many benefits, and one of them is some of the best wine in the nation. From touring the wine country, to sipping with friends around the table, wine can be enjoyed in many ways. The only time you should enjoy wine while in motion is when you’re on a tour and are not the one driving. Making a good choice in a bottle of wine is one thing. However, making the choice to protect your life and those lives around you is the most important decision you can make when it comes to wine.

A Strawberry Catch

A Strawberry Catch

California has plenty of amazing qualities. Some may focus on the beaches and Hollywood, others may be sitting by a roadside stand enjoying a bit of fresh produce. California has a huge agriculture industry within its fertile state lines. Between the oranges, artichokes, walnuts, kiwis, plums, celery, and garlic, California produces a lot of the Nation’s produce. However, if you want to bite into something sweet and delicious, try a California picked strawberry.

California strawberries are locally grown and sold.

California strawberries are so special, that there is actually a California Strawberry Commission (CSC) state agency that conducts the sale of strawberries in the state. They also do research on ways to support the growth of California’s strawberries.

The CSC has strict standards that make California strawberries the safest and healthiest fruit to eat.

Once you see the magnificent fields of strawberries in California you may be tempted to go out and pick some for yourself. However, if you do you may find yourself in a lot of trouble. Trespassing on private property can earn you several penalties, especially if you pick one of their strawberries. Picking someone’s strawberries on their property without permission can be considered trespassing with intent and damage of property.

Not only will trespassing on someone’s strawberry field get you into trouble, actually picking one without permission will too. For starters, strawberry plants are someone’s property, and by picking a strawberry, you are damaging property. Unless the fruit is on public property, it’s actually illegal to pick someone else’s produce. Not only is it illegal, its poor etiquette to eat someone’s fruit without permission.

California has amazing produce that we get to enjoy on a regular basis. It’s pretty rare for California not have everything you need here. Local strawberries are a sweet bite of California’s sunshine and vibes. The taste will make your day and leave you feeling satisfied because you’re supporting your local farmers.

California’s Eviction Process

California’s Eviction Process

While a landlord has the right to evict a tenant from a rental problem if that person is doing a great deal of property damage or has stopped paying their rent, California does expect that landlord to obey the letter of the law. Failing to do so can result in the police showing up and arresting the landlord.

California has clear rules about the eviction process. The first thing landlord have to do is provide the tenant with written notice that their tenancy is terminated. If possible, this termination should be done in person and with a witness nearby. At this point, most landlords give their tenants an opportunity to correct whatever behavior prompted the behavior, such as having a pet where they’re not allowed, disrupting other tenants, or failing to stay on top of monthly rent checks.

In California, landlords are required to give the tenants five full days to leave their home.

What Happens Next?

If the tenant doesn’t change their behavior or if they refuse to leave the property, it’s time for the landlord to take the next step.

This is the point that many landlords find themselves in legal trouble. First, you aren’t allowed to simply wait until the tenant leaves their apartment and then change the locks, making it impossible for them to get back in. Second, you can’t contact the utility company and simply have them shut down the utilities to the property with the hope that this forces the tenant to leave.

Doing either of these things puts the tenant in a position where they’re free to contact the police and let them know what just happened, and even though the tenant isn’t supposed to be around anymore, that won’t stop the police from arresting the landlord. In this event, the landlord will be charged with a misdemeanor lockout, a charge that can seriously jeopardize the landlords reputation and trigger a great deal of legal fees.

When the tenants refuse to leave, the best course of action available to the landlord is taking the tenant to court. If the court agrees that the tenant violated the rental agreement, they’ll send a police officer to the property to remove the tenant. This might mean that the property remains occupied and the landlord won’t be getting rent checks but it also means the landlord won’t spend the rest of their life saddled with a criminal record. Plus, there’s always a chance that the court will order the tenant to pay back rent and cover any property damage they’re responsible for.

It’s worth noting, that it’s illegal for landlords to evict a tenant simply so they can raise the monthly rental fee on a rent-controlled property.

As A Tenant, Can You Legally Withhold Rent?

As A Tenant, Can You Legally Withhold Rent?

The relationship between tenants and their landlords can be complicated. Often what one person in the relationship thinks of as fair, the other considers the short end of the stick. It’s not unusual for tenants to get so fed up with a landlord, that they decide to force the landlord into taking action by withholding rent. While withholding rent until repairs have been made is allowed, in California, the laws surrounding the decision are complicated.

When Can A Tenant Withhold Rent?

H&S §17920.3 which is also called California’s State Housing Law, is a law that has been adapted by nearly all of California’s cities as well as the state’s legislators. The law clearly stipulates the minimum requirements the landlords must do with regards to things like:

  • Overall condition of the structures on the property
  • Heating/cooling systems
  • Lighting
  • Ventilation

Additional California state law, Civil Codes § 1941.1 and § 1941.3 stipulates the bare minimum amenities the landlord must provide each of their tenants. Issues addressed by Civil Codes § 1941.1 and § 1941.3 include:

  • Weather protection
  • Plumbing
  • Maintenance for basic safety features including floors, rails, and stairways
  • Sanitary issues (including trash receptacles, rodent control, and debris removal)
  • Locks for doors and windows

If the minimum requirements laid out in H&S §17920.3 and Civil Codes § 1941.1 and § 1941.3 aren’t meant, the tenant should contact the landlord and make them aware of the situation. If the landlord doesn’t respond or make any effort to bring the building up to code, the tenant can choose to withhold rent until something gets done to bring the building up to code. However, before you stop paying your rent, there are few legal technicalities you need to be aware of.

Hoops Tenants Have To Jump Through Before They Can Legally Withhold Rent In California

You can’t simply decide that you’re going to withhold your rent until your landlord takes care of a problem that you’ve been complaining about. The California court system has some requirements you have to meet first.

These requirements include:

You have to prove that the repair you require is in clear violation of H&S §17920.3, Civil Codes § 1941.1 or § 1941.3 You can’t withhold rent simply because you’re annoyed about something. When you decide to withhold rent, you have to be able to prove to the court that:

  • You weren’t the cause of the problem.
  • That the problem is clearly a health or safety hazard.
  • That you reported the issue to your landlord and also provided them with a reasonable deadline for making the repair, a deadline that they blatantly ignored. The amount of time to provide the landlord to correct the problem often depends on the problem itself. For some repairs, the state of California allows the landlord up to a month to repair the issue, but for other issues, such as a broken door or window lock, the problem needs to be corrected right away.

When you decide that you are going to withhold rent in order to get repairs done on the property, you should be prepared for your landlord to react badly. They may even try to evict you. If this happens, you’ll need to appear in court and provide the judge with evidence that you adhered to all local laws.

Before withholding rent, you need to contact the local court system for your county or city. Different cities have different rules about rent. It’s not unheard of for a city to require the rent that you’re not paying the landlord be directed to a city escrow account.

Are Minors Allowed To Have Alcohol Under Parents Supervision?

Are Minors Allowed To Have Alcohol Under Parents Supervision?

Some parents out there who are dealing with minors and drinking tend to take a different approach to the matter. Many parents would flat out ban their children from drinking until they are of legal age to do so. However, some parents prefer to allow their underage children to drink, but only under their supervision. The idea is that this way, the child can learn about alcohol and its effects under the watchful eye of the parent.

In many states around the country, this is a common practice. The problem with this method, is that it is actually illegal within the state of California.

Here in California, minors are not allowed to possess alcohol, and they definitely are not allowed to consume it.

An adult allowing any minor to consume alcohol in their home is against the law under Business and Professions Code 25658.2. Breaking this law is a misdemeanor offense, which means a person could face up to 1 year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. What’s worse is that would only be one of the charges a person would face for allowing a minor to consume alcohol.

In all likelihood, a person could also be charged with Penal Code 272, which makes it illegal for anyone to help a minor commit an unlawful act, such as possessing and consuming alcohol. This is another misdemeanor offense and can earn a person up to a year in jail, and a possible fine of $2,500.

Things can get even worse if the minor then proceeds to get behind the wheel of a car and cause an accident, which is why it is best to simply wait until they are older before allowing them to have any alcohol. This way, everyone stays safe and no one ends up breaking the law.

What To Do If Someone Breaks Into Your House

What To Do If Someone Breaks Into Your House

When we think of our homes, we think of them as our safe havens. They are our escape from work, stressful family events, and from other aspects of the harsh world we live in. Our homes are sanctuaries that protect us from the weather, and the outside world. One of the last things on our mind when we think about it is how safe it really is. We often think that locking the door is enough, but sometimes it’s not.

It’s better to be prepared, instead of being a victim.

Being prepared for a possible break-in will give you a leg up on the bad guys of the world. There are plenty of ways you can prepare your house. Installing a security system is one way, but there are also different kinds of locks you can place on your windows to help reinforce them.

The second step to being prepared is practicing. Practice makes perfect, and you need to be at your best. Practicing what you would do if someone breaks into your house while your home is a good way to help yourself be prepared. It may seem silly, but practicing builds muscle memory, something that you’ll have to rely on in case of an intruder. Practicing what you’ll do in each room of your home will help you keep a calm head.

If you are home when an intruder breaks into your house, there are several things you can do:

  1. You need to listen closely and try to determine where the intruder is in the house.
  2. Stay hidden from the intruder unless you’ve prepared for confronting the intruder with a self-defense weapon.
  3. Try to keep yourself separated from the intruder by locking yourself in a room, or by safely exiting the house.
  4. Call 911 as soon as you know you are safe. Even if you don’t feel safe talking, in fear the intruder may hear you, stay on the line and press a button on the phone in response to the dispatcher. In Los Angeles County you can actually text 911 to notify the police.
  5. Lastly, wait until emergency services arrive.

When a break-in happens, it can be emotionally traumatizing, especially if you live on your own. Following a break-in you need to take inventory of yourself, and your mental state. It’s not uncommon for victims of a break-in to feel insecure in their own home afterwards. After all, someone has broken into your sanctuary. Your best option is to prepare for it, and hope you never have to deal with it.