The Laws Of Everett, Washington: The Unconstitutional And The Bizarre

Submitted by Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

everett-logoToday we feature the City of Everett, Washington, a city with a few rather interesting municipal codes. Several ordinances on the book should serve as both lessons in unconstitutionality and comic relief. From prohibitions on certain public gatherings, to regulations on ducks to criminal impersonation of crossing guards, Everett can bring an assortment of entertainment for the unsuspecting tourist.

Our first entry is, appropriately, in violation of the First Amendment. Everett minces no words when it comes to its views on peaceful assembly:

tr-speech9.50.010 Public gatherings restricted.

No person shall, in the city, in or upon either Colby Avenue, Hewitt Avenue, or that part of Wetmore Avenue between Hewitt Avenue and Pacific Avenue, nor upon any public street or alley or other place within one block either north or south of Hewitt Avenue between the east line of Broadway and the west line of Grand Avenue, make any public address or hold any public meeting, or loiter in said streets at such meeting, or expose for sale any goods, wares or merchandise, or erect or maintain any booth, stand or tent for such purposes. (Prior code § 6.44.010)
9.50.020 Penalty for violations.

Any person violating any of the provisions or failing to comply with any of the mandatory requirements of this chapter shall upon conviction of such violation or failure be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars or by imprisonment not to exceed six months or by both such fine and imprisonment. (Ord. 293-74 § 2 (part), 1974; prior code § 6.44.020)

The downtown area is not a Free Speech Zone. It’s a Free Speech Free Zone.

It’s not just freedom of assembly. We know of no better place to show future generations freedom of the press in our Great Republic than near Everett schools:

handbill-distribution9.48.010 Handbill distribution near schools.

A. It is unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to distribute or circulate or offer to distribute or circulate any handbills, tickets, coupons, trading stamps, circulars, or any other form of advertising matter on or within two blocks of any public school ground in the city.

B. Provided however, that the provisions hereof shall not be construed so as to prohibit such distribution or circulation on any portion of Hewitt Avenue. (Prior code § 6.24.010)
9.48.020 Penalty for violations.

Succinctly, the penalty is up to $500.00 fine and up to six months in jail. Remember children, the Free Speech Free Zone on Hewitt Avenue, it doesn’t apply to handbills. So print it up, just make sure you are alone when you distribute it.

Students, be sure when you get your driver license not to drive more than twice past the same point in some parts of town or else it might be a crime.

drag-racer-flames46.48.010 Cruising.

A. No person shall drive or permit a motor vehicle under his care, custody or control to be driven past a traffic-control point more than two times in the same direction of travel within a two-hour period in or around a posted “no cruising” area.

B. On the major streets or alleys of a “no cruising” area there shall be posted a sign which shall read substantially as follows:


City Ordinance No. 1396-87

Maximum Penalty—$1,000

C. A traffic-control point as used in this section means any point or points within the “no cruising” area established by the police department for the purpose of monitoring cruising.

D. No violation shall occur except upon the third passage in the same direction of travel past the same traffic-control point within the aforementioned two-hour period.

E. No area shall be designated or posted as a “no cruising” area except upon the passage of a resolution by the city council specifically mandating such designation and posting for a particular area.

F. Buses, taxicabs and emergency vehicles shall be exempt from the provisions of this chapter. Further, it shall be an affirmative defense that the vehicle was operated for business purposes.

G. Cruising is a misdemeanor and may be punished by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars. (Ord. 1396-87 § 1, 1987)

Forget the federal Stolen Valor Act, you don’t need to falsely claim you won the Medal of Honor to be arrested in Everett. You can just wear your dad’s army shirt.

john-lennon-army-uniform9.04.010 Unlawful wearing of uniform.

It is unlawful for any person not an officer or enlisted man of the United States Army, Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard, to wear the uniform thereof, or any distinctive part of such uniform or a uniform any part of which is similar to a distinctive part of the duly prescribed uniform thereof; provided, that the foregoing provision shall not be construed to apply to any person authorized to wear such uniform by the laws of the United States, and in particular Section 125 of the National Defense Act as amended (10 U.S.C.A., Section 1393). (Prior code § 6.52.010)
9.04.020 Penalty for violations.

Three hundred dollar fine or ninety days in jail.

Thankfully, Everett does not stop there. Your children are at risk from crossing guard wannabes.

crossing-guard2.40.060 Impersonating guard prohibited.

It is unlawful for any person not duly appointed and sworn in as civilian crossing guard to impersonate such officer or to wear, carry or display the badge, designated dress, or insignia of such civilian crossing guards. (Prior code § 1.84.070)
2.40.070 Penalty for violations.

Five hundred dollar fine and six months in jail

Schools are designated in Washington as being Weapon Free Zones. Some truly fearsome weapons were wielded by marauding youth in the past, so the city council stepped in and put an end to this menace.

dm-slingshot9.86.010 Use of B.B. guns, slingshots, etc.

The use of B.B. guns, slingshots, bean-shooters or any like appliance or apparatus is hereby forbidden in the city and none of them shall be discharged within the city, either on public streets or places, or on private property; provided that it shall not be unlawful to use or discharge said appliance or apparatus mentioned in this section on any range or field designated for the use and discharge of such appliance or apparatus by public authorities. (Prior code § 6.04.010)
9.86.020 Penalty for violations.

Five hundred dollars and six months in jail.

The youth are not the only ones targeted by the City of Everett, the elderly are also: Criminal Duck Feeding

darry-duck-hot-dogChapter 8.52 FEEDING DUCKS
8.52.010 Feeding water fowl near Silver Lake prohibited.

No person shall feed water fowl or deposit or leave any foodstuff of any kind or nature on public property within one thousand feet of the shoreline of Silver Lake save and except in a receptacle provided by the city for that purpose. (Ord. 1557-89 § 1, 1989)
8.52.020 Violation—Penalty.

A misdemeanor carrying a three hundred dollar fine.

The most bizarre is yet to come folks: Do not use hypnotized men as advertisements.

mystic-man9.24.010 Hypnotism unlawful.

It is unlawful for any hypnotist or mesmerist, or other person, to exhibit or display, or permit to be exhibited or displayed, any subject of any hypnotist or mesmerist, or any person while under the influence of or alleged influence of hypnotism or mesmerism, in any window or public place outside of the hall or theater where such hypnotist or mesmerist is giving his entertainment or exhibition. (Prior code § 6.26.010)
9.24.020 Penalty for violations.

Five hundred dollars and six months in jail.

If you are in the Pacific Northwest, Everett, Washington is a great tourist destination. Vacancies are available in the local Gray Bar Hotel. Just don’t feed the ducks.

By Darren Smith


Everett Municipal Code

The views expressed in this posting are the author’s alone and not those of the blog, the host, or other weekend bloggers. As an open forum, weekend bloggers post independently without pre-approval or review. Content and any displays or art are solely their decision and responsibility.

40 thoughts on “The Laws Of Everett, Washington: The Unconstitutional And The Bizarre”

  1. What I find bizarre is that every one of these edicts sounds exactly like a municipal ordinance one could have unearthed in nearly any midwestern small town in the 1950s. Food for thought for those of us who act as if the “police state” mentality in America were something recent.

  2. For what it’s worth, I am in downtown Everett (coincidentially at the streets identified above, the corner of Hewitt and Colby) near daily for business and I have never seen any of those laws enforced. In fact, on Fridays there are anywhere from one to three regular ‘demonstration(s)’ (mostly military supporters on one side and peace activists on the other) on the corner of Hewitt and Colby. There are also street vendors selling food as well as an annoying group of LaRouche supporters who hand out fliers regularily (well within what could defined ‘near a school’), etc… all within all of the areas defined above.

    There are also annual ‘cruise’ events planned by various car clubs, etc. which are actually a lot fo fun.

    As ridiculous as these laws are, and as much as they need to come off of the books… based on my first hand experience of the city, they are not enforced and I doubt many, if any, of the LEOs even know they exist.

  3. Just wanted to say that the law against feeding ducks is NOT bizarre. People feed the ducks at a local lake and before you know it you got a zillion Ducks pooping everywhere who don’t know how to feed themselves except wait for a handout. Eventually, you get too many Ducks and they either have to culled or gotten rid of all together.

  4. Jack:

    If the MRI/EEG show activity, this would be a major sea change in determining death.

    For her family’s sake, and hers, I hope she is recovering.

  5. Man, I went to the store earlier and forgot my wallet. If I’d lived in Everett near a “no-cruising zone”, I would be in trouble.

  6. To be stupid, laws don’t always need to be archaic. The “no cruising” one might have been on the books for quite awhile in Everett, WA, but it is quite recent in my town of Athens, GA, to the consternation of….wait for it….the liberals in the town. UGA brass and more conservative members of the town commissioners thought it was just dandy.

    Sandi Hemming – It would be lovely if just one topic, this one especially concerning LOCAL and mostly older laws, could progress without national politics factoring in. Otherwise, in my paragraph above I suppose I should have blamed the climate surrounding the administration of George W. Bush.

  7. This is utopia by any liberal’s standards. Their perfect world. Pelosi, et al, should flock there! The Constitution is ignored in Everett. Actually, Washington is a constitution-free state.

  8. Free, We are some provincial mofo’s here in the US. I agree we don’t want titty bars next to churches or many places. But it seems the people who write laws don’t want titty bars anywhere.

  9. Just think of the time and money spent on proposing, drafting, discussing and passing these laws. There must be a collective misunderstanding that by making everything “illegal” they will stop all bad behavior. This is the kind of behavior that reinforces my perspective that: You are obligated to define for yourself the laws you will bend, and be sure that those “bends” are not defined by others.

  10. Well liquor licenses and the physical commercial property is part of that too, Nick, collectively it all conspires to seriously discourage sexually oriented businesses and even businesses that serve alcohol.

  11. Except I don’t think a titty bar is where a well constructed insurgency will start!

  12. Free, Any govt. willfully w/ malice and forethought drafting a law they know to be unconstitutional, just because they know someone doesn’t have the resources to fight it, is how revolutions start.

  13. Another less innocuous one was a scheme whereby local businesses could sell to local residents and the local residents would receive discounts which would lower their property tax bill. To me it looks like a reverse tariff, a kind of protectionism which I think violates the Commerce Clause, but nobody will challenge it. I’m even a part of it because it was an initiative through the Chamber of Commerce, its one of those things where I’m either ‘with you’ or ‘I’m not’ so naturally I ‘support’ — but in the back of my mind I don’t believe in its constitutionality. Another bizarre one was a town that regulated noise by regulating the speakers in a car!

  14. Many municipalities have similar things and many stay on the books simply because they don’t get challenged. Many are passed fully knowing that they are unconstitutional, the town knows they’re putting up a speed bump. Let me explain. As a clerk I drafted certain ordinances that regulated ‘sexually oriented businesses’ to be limited, ie. they couldn’t exist 1000′ from a school, residential zone, a church….and the long and the short of it was that at the end of the day it allowed about 5 square feet of space at the back of the town’s dump to be used for a strip club. Many might say, “Well, why bother if its unconstitutional?” Well, it IS unconstitutional, but the strip club owner would have to surmount the hurdle and actually WIN in court, and he would win in court — eventually. But look what he would need, he’d need the will and the pocketbook to ultimately prevail and most club owners weren’t looking to fight. This was actually very effective and trust me it wasn’t a Republican/Democrat thing, oh, God, no, once in the suburbs, there is WIDE overlap in what I in jest call the ‘Suburban Green Grass NIMBY Party’ — with respect to those particular ordinances, the state now has a STATE zoning ordinance in place.

  15. I think all laws SHALL have to be passed by 2/3 vote from now on and have a 12 year expiration date. Because frankly, if you can’t get 2/3 of the people to agree, but just a bare majority, it probably wasn’t that good or necessary of an idea to begin with, and if it’s still a good idea in 12 years it should pass again with no trouble – otherwise it should die.

    But the idea that every term a legislative body meets thinking its JOB is to pass yet MORE laws and regulations on a full time basis… For hundreds of years on end? Soon we will run out of real estate to hold the law libraries needed.

  16. …And If I use a pair of well fed hypnotized ducks to pass out more than two handbills an hour in front of a school I a guilty of a Class A Felony, however If I use those same ducks to pass out Marijuana in the park — we’re cool! Could not make more sense if there was a D.C. suffixed.

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