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San Juan Capistrano bans flip-flops, keeps swallows

September 18, 2013|By Paul Whitefield
  • At two San Juan Capistrano parks, you wear flip-flops at your own risk.
At two San Juan Capistrano parks, you wear flip-flops at your own risk. (Los Angeles Times )

File this under “Things that make you go ‘Huh?,’ California section”: The city of San Juan Capistrano has banned flip-flops at two city parks.

And better yet: City officials apparently didn’t know they’d done it.

And even better yet: It’s a rule, but no one is enforcing it.

OK, insert your “crazy Californians” joke here.

But really, what’s next: banning bikinis at the beach, or Ray Bans, or fire pits? (Oh, wait, scratch that last one.)

Now, to most of the country, San Juan Capistrano is the place the swallows return to. To generations of Southern California schoolchildren, it’s where you go to see a Spanish mission; and then you coerce mom or dad into making a model of it for you for your school mission project, part of a time-honored tradition. (That’s also how many California kids first learn about cheating, which comes in handy later when they want to get into Harvard.)

But it’s not really Liberal Looneyville. It’s not even down the street from there. Heck, it’s in GOP Orange County, right next to San Clemente, where once-upon-a-bad time sat the Western White House.

So what prompted this episode of “Nanny State Gone Wild”?

As The Times reported: “On Monday, Commission Secretary Cynthia Alexander said she had been informed by city staff that the ban was designed to protect the city from liability under a template provided by the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority, which provides liability insurance to dozens of cities in the state.”

And city spokeswoman Cathy Salcedo said “she believed the ban” - in effect at Los Rios Park in the city’s historic district and at a recently opened dog park - “had been implemented in response to a recommendation from the city’s insurer.”

Aha: The old “the lawyers and the insurance folks made us do it” dodge!

Showing that rules are made to be broken, though - especially when you don’t even know about them - “some of the commissioners said they had even worn flip-flops to the dog park’s ribbon-cutting ceremony.” Talk about wild and crazy guys; probably wore board shorts and Hawaiian shirts too. Please, though, tell me they didn’t bring chihuahuas.

But now comes “The Daily Show” moment:

Alexander said the rule is not enforced because there is no supervision at the park.

“If you go to the park with flip-flops there’s no one going to tell you to leave the park,” she said. “You’re using it at your own risk."

Commissioner Gerald Muir took issue with that.

“Why have rules that you’re not going to enforce?” he said.

Why, indeed.

Hey, don't look at me, I’m a liberal; I never have an answer for anything, unless “It's George Bush’s fault” counts.

What I do have, though, are words of wisdom from two California presidents; good Republicans, no less:

“Man is not free unless government is limited.” - Ronald Reagan.

“Solutions are not the answer.” - Richard Nixon.

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Follow Paul Whitefield on Twitter @PaulWhitefield1 and Google +

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