Ask the County Law Librarian – Motorcycles and Lane-Sharing

Q. I moved to California about a year ago from the Midwest, and I’ve noticed something that, to me, seems pretty dangerous. When I’m driving, whether in town or on the freeway, motorcyclists will often pass me by slipping between my car and the car traveling next to me! At first I thought I was witnessing a few random incidents, but it happens regularly. Is this legal? -Lacey A. According to page 16 of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Motorcycle Handbook, “the term lane splitting, sometimes known as lane sharing, filtering, or white-lining refers to the process of a motorcyclist riding between lanes of stopped or slower-moving traffic or moving between lanes to the front of traffic stopped at a traffic light.” The topic of lane-splitting is interesting for a couple of reasons: 1) California has the distinction of being the only state in the country in which lane-sharing is permitted as long as it’s performed in a safe manner; and 2) there are no laws that specifically allow or prohibit lane-sharing in California. Though in recent years other states have expressed interest in enacting laws that permit lane-sharing, California has been the only state to allow the practice thus far—not through the legislature but via the authority of the California Highway Patrol (CHP). In fact, there is no mention of lane-splitting in […]

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Time to Get Your Veg On!

June is fast approaching so that means it is time for Sacramento…to get its Veg On again!! The 5th Annual Sacramento VegFest, one of California’s premiere vegetarian lifestyle events, sponsored by the Del Pas Boulevard Partnership, is scheduled to take place on Saturday, June 7th at the Red Lion Hotel in Sacramento. The event will run all day and will be “celebrating vegetarian foods and healthy living”. It will include vendors, cooking demonstrations, book signings, and have local representation of many fresh, locally-grown, gluten- and soy-free options for those interested in eating and living healthier. The highlight of the event this year will be a lecture by Academy Award-nominated actress and healthy lifestyle/mental health advocate, Mariel Hemingway. In addition to Ms. Hemingway, the speaker lineup includes Doug Lisle, Ph.D, Director of Research for TrueNorth Health Center; Ed Bauer, Champion Vegan Bodybuilder and NPC Champion Bodybuilder; and Brooke Preston, Head Chef for the Green Boheme Restaurant. General admission tickets are available online for $10 early bird (before May 28), $12.50 prior to the event, or $15 at the door. Kids under 12 are free. A VIP package is also available for $175 which includes a luncheon with Mariel Hemingway at the event, an autographed copy of her book, preferred parking on site, reserved seating for speaker presentations, and a swag bag of great items. For more […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian – Registration of Living Trusts

Q. My mother created a living trust in 1990 and amended it in 2005 with the aid of an attorney in Sacramento County. My mother died last month. Are there any copies of this trust filed with the county? Sincerely, Robert A. Estate planning documents, including living trusts, are usually not filed with a court or county agency before a death; in fact, only a handful of states require a trustee register a trust with the county court, and California isn’t one of them (See Nolo Press’ Make Your Own Living Trust, Ch. 12, for the list of states that do). Generally, the settlor will retain the original, signed trust instrument in her records along with several copies, which may or may not be distributed to successor trustees and beneficiaries during her lifetime. If you haven’t yet located the original trust instrument, there are several places in which to look. Contrary to popular belief, original documents are generally not kept at the drafting attorney’s office, although the attorney may retain a copy. Often, the trust will be in a binder or a large envelope in a desk drawer or file cabinet with other important documents. It’s a good idea to search your mother’s file cabinets and desk. Next, contact any banks she used to find out if she had a safe-deposit box there.  Banks will […]

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Local Non-Profit Repairs Communities Across Western States

The Sierra Service Project (SSP), founded in 1975 and inspired by and modeled after the Appalachian Service Project, organizes an annual summer program in which youth volunteers help repair homes and buildings in rural and urban communities across the western United States. Originally founded by several United Methodist Church ministers, SSP is now an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. It maintains a close affiliation with the United Methodist Church but also draws participants from a number of other denominations. The organization, which recently moved its headquarters from Carmichael to a storefront near Del Paso Boulevard and Arden Way in North Sacramento, works to change the lives of teenagers through selfless service to those in need. According to their website, the SSP sees their service-projects as an opportunity to put their faith in action and seeks “through acts of service repairing homes and community centers, [to invite] youth into a closer relationship with God and to experience the transformative power of serving people who have a culture and life experience different from their own.” Each program location is staffed by a Site Director, Spiritual Life Coordinator, three Construction Team members, and two Cooks. They are trained and present at the site for the entire summer, working with the community to provide quality service opportunities. The Staff participates in a ten-day training which consists of hands-on job specific […]

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Mediation: Love Hurts!

“Mediation” is a new short film by Writer/Director Francisco Lorite which had its world premiere at the New Filmmakers LA event on January 11th at the AT&T Center in Los Angeles and also be screened on February 11th at the New Filmmakers event in New York City. The film tells the story of a divorce mediation that spirals out of control for a husband(Freddy Rodriguez, “Six Feet Under”), his soon-to-be ex-wife(Marley Shelton, “Mad Men”) and their court-appointed mediator(Marilyn Sanabria, “Between”). Lorite creates a short piece of work which is filled with tension, cliches, excellent acting, and a plot which twists right up to the end of the 14-minute film. Drawn from real life and the fertile imagination of the Spaniard, the movie is introductory piece for the new production company, Top Rebel Productions, which is opening up shop in 2014. The company, led by Lorite, Rodriguez, and Producer, Bill Winett, looks to focus on developing a slate of film and TV projects—dark films, crime dramas and thrillers—which illustrate that excellent production can be accomplished with little budget. “Mediation” reflects what this focus looks like when it works. If the work has any real weakness in the film, it is that the characters lack complexity. They are what they appear to be on the surface. It is only the excellent script and camera work, both guided […]

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California Latino Students: Unfulfilled Educational Potential

What is most glaring after reading the recently released study by the Campaign for College Opportunity regarding the attendance of Latino students at the various levels of the state’s post-secondary educational system(i.e. California Community Colleges{CCC}, the California State University{CSU} schools and the University of California{UC} schools) and their graduation rates is what is not emphasized in the statistics nor the media analysis. The report and the media seem more interested in promoting the creation of a mandate that each level have a proportion of Latino students equal to the percentage number of eligible Latino students in the general population and less in addressing major questions which are fundamental. These issues include the high school graduation rates of Latino students in California, the related academic preparation/achievement of the students, and the support resources needed to plan for attendance at the more prestigious state public schools. Looking at these less emphasized points in the report provide a better view to a solution than those emphasized in the report and the main stream media reports on it. Latino students in California are less likely to finish high school or obtain a GED than their counterparts in other racial groups in the state. Just over 40% of Latinos do not have a High School diploma/GED. This compares with 19% for California overall(Whites 6%, African Americans 11%, and Asian/Pacific Islanders […]

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The sky (and beyond) is the limit for “Captain Mama”

  “Literature can open up limitless opportunities for Latino children especially for young girls.” —Graciela Tiscareño-Sato The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word, “hero”, as a person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities; a person who is greatly admired. Graciela Tiscareño-Sato  fits this definition in every respect. The daughter of Mexican immigrants Arturo and Tina Tiscareño, Graciela was the first person in her family to attend college. She was encouraged by her high school counselor’s husband, a US Air Force officer, to apply for an Air Force ROTC scholarship. That way, the military would pay for her education first, in exchange for a minimum of four years of service afterward as a military leader. Graciela was awarded the four-year AFROTC scholarship and attended the University of California at Berkeley as a military cadet. In four and a half years, she completed a degree in Environmental Design/Architecture and the Aerospace Studies program. Commissioned as an officer upon graduation, Graciela embarked on a distinguished military career in the Air Force as a navigator and instructor onboard the KC135R refueling tanker. On her first deployment to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, she helped enforce the No-fly Zone in southern Iraq after the first Gulf War. At a time when the U.S. military officially excluded women from flying in combat operations, Graciela and her crew earned the […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian — Homeowners Bill of Rights

Q. Hello. I submitted a loan modification application to my mortgage company on August 1. They sent me a letter on August 7 stating that the modification was “under review.” On August 20, they recorded a “notice of trustee sale.” My neighbor told me that they couldn’t do this because of some new law that protected homeowners against foreclosure. Is this true? I can’t believe they would sell my house out from under me when we’ve been talking about modifying the loan! I feel so betrayed. Please help! Molly A. Oh, Molly, I’m so sorry—that sounds awful! Depending upon the circumstances, there are a couple of new laws that might help you—California’s Homeowner Bill of Rights (HOBR) and the National Mortgage Settlement NMS). Key provisions of HBOR, Attorney General Kamela Harris’ response to the state’s foreclosure and mortgage crisis, effective January 1, 2013, include: • Restriction on dual track foreclosure: Mortgage servicers are restricted from advancing the foreclosure process if the homeowner is working on securing a loan modification. When a homeowner completes an application for a loan modification, the foreclosure process is essentially paused until the complete application has been fully reviewed. • Guaranteed single point of contact: Homeowners are guaranteed a single point of contact as they navigate the system and try to keep their homes – a person or team at the […]

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Ask the County Law Librarian – Security Deposit Maximums

Q. I was just informed that my landlord pulled a fast one on me. Is it against the law to require first and last months’ rent, a deposit, and a pet deposit? My rent is $850; the deposit is $500; plus a $450 pet deposit! Can my landlord do this? – Danielle A. The answer to this question depends on a few factors, including your definition of “pulled a fast one”! But, to answer your specific question as to whether it’s legal for a landlord to require fees at the beginning of the tenancy, which typically include the first month’s rent and a security deposit: yes, it is perfectly legal and in fact these are very common provisions in rental agreements and leases in California. In regard to the cost of rent, there’s no state or federal law that restricts the amount of rent a landlord can charge; legally, he or she can charge whatever they want, unless the premises are under the jurisdiction of local rent-control ordinances. To find out if you live in a city with rent control, you can check out the California Courts‘ list of cities with rent control. You can also contact your local housing officials or rent control board, visit your local law library, or read your city or county ordinances online. In contrast to rental rates, state laws […]

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Opinion: Mayonnaise as California’s official state condiment

“Miracle Whip is (the) gateway condiment (to mayonnaise).” –George Young on Facebook 10-3-2013 Coming from Wisconsin, I grew up having mayonnaise in many different food items which I came to enjoy eating over the years: egg salad, potato salad(about 8 or 9 different variations), tuna salad, etc. I know that a certain percentage of the female population of my state looked upon mayonnaise as an excellent hair conditioning item. When I moved here to California, I found that suddenly I was running into mayonnaise being put on foods that I had never seen nor considered to be mayonnaise foods, including it being included on almost every sandwich I ate and served as a condiment for hot dogs and hamburgers. I have even witnessed individuals using it as a condiment with french fries in place of ketchup. The sight of fries being dipped into mayo takes some getting used to. It seemed that I had entered a land where there was a law which required that mayonnaise had to be included in every food served(I checked and couldn’t find one. Thank, God!). So what is this obsession in California with mayonnaise? Was there some dark, desperate moment in the Bear Republic’s history that humble mayonnaise saved the state from disaster? I checked on the state government’s website and couldn’t find it listed as an official symbol. […]

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