Jaywalking Decriminalized in California

Another day, another historic planning-related bill signed into law in the Golden State.

2 minute read

October 4, 2022, 12:00 PM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


A crosswalk activation button is shown in the foreground with two pedestrians show blurred while crossing the street in the background.

Dogora Sun / Shutterstock

In 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom vetoed a bill, AB 1238, that would have decriminalized jaywalking in the state, in a major setback for the cause of making streets safer for noon-vehicular modes of transportation.  

In 2022, Gov. Newsom signed a similar bill—AB 2147, also known as “The Freedom to Walk Act,” authored by the same state legislator, Assembly Member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). The law takes effect of January 1, 2023.

Colleenn Shalby reports on the new law for the Los Angeles Times:

Under the new law, pedestrians would be able to legally cross the street outside of designated intersections without the threat of a hefty citation “unless a reasonably careful person would realize there is an immediate danger of collision with a moving vehicle or other device moving exclusively by human power.”

Shalby notes that jaywalking laws grew out of auto industry lobbying in the early 20th century—one of the most obvious signs of the growing car-centric planning and automobile dependence that continues to dominate the American built environment.

Data shows that jaywalking laws in the 21st century have disparate impacts for low-income individuals and people of color. “Data cited by Ting’s office from the California Racial and Identity Profiling Act shows that Black Californians are up to 4.5 times more likely to be stopped for jaywalking than those who are white,” writes Shaby.

The governor’s signature on AB 2147 follows shortly after the ink dried on two other historically significant planning reforms: AB 2097, which remove parking requirements near transit stops, and AB 2011, which made affordable housing developments on commercially zoned properties legal by right.

Saturday, October 1, 2022 in Los Angeles Times

Aerial view of homes on green hillsides in Daly City, California.

Depopulation Patterns Get Weird

A recent ranking of “declining” cities heavily features some of the most expensive cities in the country — including New York City and a half-dozen in the San Francisco Bay Area.

April 10, 2024 - California Planning & Development Report

Aerial view of Oakland, California with bay in background

California Exodus: Population Drops Below 39 Million

Never mind the 40 million that demographers predicted the Golden State would reach by 2018. The state's population dipped below 39 million to 38.965 million last July, according to Census data released in March, the lowest since 2015.

April 11, 2024 - Los Angeles Times

A view straight down LaSalle Street, lined by high-rise buildings with an El line running horizontally over the street.

Chicago to Turn High-Rise Offices into Housing

Four commercial buildings in the Chicago Loop have been approved for redevelopment into housing in a bid to revitalize the city’s downtown post-pandemic.

April 10, 2024 - Chicago Construction News

Walkways and escalator at crowded transit station, with one person walking a bike in foreground.

Best Practices for Outsourcing Transit Operations

Contracting with private sector vendors can help transit agencies improve efficiency and provide better service.

April 14 - Smart Cities Dive

White sign with No Camping - Violators Subject to Arrest and municipal code in red text with snowy trees in background.

Opinion: Unhoused People Need Housing, Not Law Enforcement

The sharp increase in the unhoused population calls for urgent action, not criminalization.

April 14 - The Hill

Google street view of grassy lot next to brick church with elevated freeway on other side in Houston, Texas.

Houston Supportive Housing Development Sparks Debate

Critics say a proposed apartment building would negatively impact the neighborhood’s walkability.

April 12 - Houston Chronicle

News from HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Call for Speakers

Mpact Transit + Community

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.