Jaywalking Laws No Longer Applicable in Downtown San Diego

The “Freedom to Walk Act” now allows all Californians to cross streets in a manner that was once deemed illegal
On the cover of the San Diego Reader.

Since Jan. 1, 2023, it’s been legal for pedestrians to “jaywalk” across downtown San Diego streets.

Jaywalking refers to not using intersection crosswalks to get from one side of the street to another. According to California’s new “Freedom to Walk Act,” it’s now a legal practice up and down the state.

Passage of the law may have reminded some of a San Diego Reader story published on March 9, 2022. The cover lines blared: “JAYWALKER? LAWBREAKER. We’re all a little criminal.”

The cover photo (pictured above) showed San Diego Sun founder/editor Ron Donoho looking around suspiciously while navigating the diagonal crosswalk at Market Street and Fifth Avenue in the Gaslamp Quarter.

For the record (again), I was not jaywalking in the photo. The Reader cover lends the assumption that I was.

Here’s what writer Thomas K. Arnold penned in the story, which was a broad feature about all the little ways people break misdemeanor laws in daily life situations:

“Ron Donoho is gaining a reputation as Mr. Downtown. He’s the editor of the San Diego Sun, an online publication devoted exclusively to Downtown news, events and happenings. Asked if he’s noticed any commonly broken laws, he’s quick to single out jaywalking. “There was a span of time when police would crack down on it, but I would say that police could go down to the Gaslamp Quarter on any given day and fill out their quotas.”

San Diego Sun editor Ron Donoho during his Reader cover shoot. (Photo by Matthew Suarez)

The Sun appreciates the promotional aspect of that pull quote. Now, however, jaywalking is a moot point. Thanks to CA Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), jaywalking citations are a thing of the past.

In pushing for the law change, Ting said communities of color were disproportionately cited for jaywalking compared to the rest of the population.

Ting pointed to statewide studies that showed African-Americans were five times more likely to get cited than others.

San Diego Police data shows that between January 2015 and July 2021, Black people received 16% of jaywalking citations, according to CBS8. U.S. Census data shows that six percent of the San Diego population is Black.

The California Sheriff’s Association strongly opposed the legislation, citing safety concerns.

For now, look both ways, use common sense and avoid Reader photographers looking to stir up controversy. SDSun


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