Watch out for the irrepressible potty police | SierraSun.com
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Watch out for the irrepressible potty police

Jamie Bate

A little bit of advice to the folks out there with a pocket full of pot: Don’t pee in the alley behind Commercial Row.

As a frequent peruser of the Truckee PD’s police logs, I’ve noticed that the alley is often the scene of police apprehending the unfortunate folks we’ve come to call “bladder bandits.”

You see, a Town of Truckee ordinance prohibits people from urinating “within one hundred feet of any building or structure, or upon or within fifty feet of any public or private roadway, or upon or within fifty feet of any public commercial parking facility, except in an appropriate sanitary facility…”

Now, however, not only will scofflaws be cited for a misdemeanor offense, great legal minds have decreed that peeing in public could lead to a lot more, like earning people five to 10 in the pokey ” at least those who are carrying contraband or have outstanding warrants.

According to an article in the San Francisco Chronicle, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday that, just like in Truckee, it is a crime in California to urinate in a public place.

Just like a busted tail light, that opens one up to the full scrutiny of “The Law.”

The case before the court came from Berkeley ” the bastion of free speech but, alas, not free piddling ” where a police officer caught a man ” no doubt with his pants down ” urinating in the parking lot of a closed restaurant. After a search, the vigilant officer found drugs on the peeing perpetrator.

The man was charged with possessing cocaine base, convicted and placed on probation, according to the Chron.

Had the man not been committing a crime ” urinating in public ” in the first place

the search would have been illegal.

The article goes on to say that prosecutors had a difficult time justifying the man’s detention to a judge. State law makes it an infraction to relieve one’s self on a public transportation vehicle, but not necessarily from doing so in any other public place.

Nonetheless, the original judge in the case decided that the search was legal because the defendant could have been littering, another illegal act.

And even though a three-judge court of appeal panel in San Francisco upheld the detention, it disagreed with the reasoning. Instead of the litter rap, which is defined as “waste matter ordinarily carried on or about the person,” the appeals court dug up a law from the 1800s that makes it a crime to commit a public nuisance, defined as an act that is “injurious to health, or is indecent, or offensive to the senses,” the Chronicle article noted.

By peeing, our Berkeley perp was also interfering with “the comfortable enjoyment of life or property” by a community, or a neighborhood, or “any considerable number of persons.”

So now you know not to do anything that might be “offensive to the senses” of “any considerable number of persons,” which in the alley behind Commercial Row is, I guess, considerable.

But the article did hold a bright spot, particularly for us free-range relievers here in the mountains. The public nuisance law doesn’t necessarily apply to peeing in the great outdoors. For example, the court said “a hiker responding to an irrepressible call of nature in an isolated area in the backwoods cannot reasonably be seen as interfering with any right common to the public.”

My bet is that Bambi, Thumper and the rest of the crew would have a different take on that. As would the irrepressible potty police.


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