(information last updated January 2019)

Ongoing Projects:

Federal Project(s) Operating in the State:

The Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, which is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Monterey County Water Resources Agency, has run a volunteer water quality monitoring program since 1988.  See Elkhorn Slough Research: Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring, Elkhorn Slough, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).  Through the program, volunteers take monthly samples at twenty-six stations within the reserve.  See id.

State Project(s):

The Clean Water Team, a California state-run program, provides guidance, training, and equipment loans to citizens interested in monitoring surface water and water tables.  SWAMP - Clean Water Team (CWT) – Citizen Monitoring, Cal. Water Boards, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). Their site also provides links to existing organizations and other relevant programs. See id.


Pursuant to Assembly Bill 617, the California Air Resources Board (“CARB”) established the Community Air Protection Program (“CAPP”) in 2018, a statewide effort to develop community air monitoring and community emissions reduction programs. See Community Air Protection Program, Cal. Air Resources Board, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). Under this program, CARB is required to “provide grants to community-based organizations for technical assistance and to support community participation” in air monitoring efforts. Cal. Health & Safety Code § 44391.2(d); see also id. § 42705.5.

Collection of Information:

Scientific Collecting Permit:

It is unlawful for “any person or entity to take and/or possess live or dead wildlife, or parts thereof in any part of the State of California, for scientific, educational, and/or propagation purposes except as authorized by a permit issued by the [the Department of Fish and Wildlife].” Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14, § 650(a); see also Scientific Collecting Permits, Cal. Dep’t of Fish & Wildlife, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019).

Other Provisions:

See infra “Drone Laws.”

Trespass Laws:

Limits on Municipal Power:

Cities and towns are prohibited from passing ordinances that would require written permission to enter private lands that are not fenced, enclosed, under cultivation, or posted against trespass.  Cal. Penal Code § 602.2.

Criminal Liability for Trespass Despite Lack of Notice:

No.  For liability to attach to an intruder on uncultivated and unenclosed land, the land must be marked against trespass by three signs per mile and at every road or trail entering the property in order and the intruder must refuse to leave when asked.  Cal. Penal Code § 602.8(a).

Drone Laws:

Criminal Interference with Emergency Responders Law:

“(1) Every person who goes to the scene of an emergency, or stops at the scene of an emergency, for the purpose of viewing the scene or the activities of police officers, firefighters, emergency medical, or other emergency personnel, or military personnel coping with the emergency in the course of their duties during the time it is necessary for emergency vehicles or those personnel to be at the scene of the emergency or to be moving to or from the scene of the emergency for the purpose of protecting lives or property, unless it is part of the duties of that person’s employment to view that scene or those activities, and thereby impedes police officers, firefighters, emergency medical, or other emergency personnel or military personnel, in the performance of their duties in coping with the emergency, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(2) For purposes of this subdivision, a person shall include a person, regardless of his or her location, who operates or uses an unmanned aerial vehicle, remote piloted aircraft, or drone that is at the scene of an emergency.” Cal. Penal Code § 402(a).

Civil Privacy Law [known as the “Anti-Paparazzi Law”]:

“(a) A person is liable for physical invasion of privacy when the person knowingly enters onto the land or into the airspace above the land of another person without permission or otherwise commits a trespass in order to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity and the invasion occurs in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person.

(b) A person is liable for constructive invasion of privacy when the person attempts to capture, in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person, any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a private, personal, or familial activity, through the use of any device, regardless of whether there is a physical trespass, if this image, sound recording, or other physical impression could not have been achieved without a trespass unless the device was used.”  Cal. Civ. Code § 1708.8. 

State Parks:

Drones in State Wilderness Areas, Natural Preserves, and Cultural Preserves:

“Except where it is necessary in an emergency within the wilderness area, cultural preserves, and natural preserves, there shall be no use of …motorized equipment… except to the extent the Director of the Department of Parks and Recreation [permits].” Cal. Code Regs. tit. 14, § 4351(a). Motorized equipment includes drones. See Unmanned Aircraft System (Drones) in State Parks, Cal. Dep’t of Parks & Recreation, (last visited Feb. 7, 2019). Please check the designation of the park unit before visiting. 


Other State Park Units:

As each park unit may have its own drone policies, “California State Parks recommends that recreational drone users check with their local State Park District before operating a [drone] within a State Park.” Id.

Critical Infrastructure Laws: 

Loitering Law:

It is illegal to “loiter” in the immediate vicinity of “industrial property” that is posted against trespass.  Cal. Penal Code § 555.2.  For this offense, oil facilities, gas facilities, hydroelectric facilities, waste management facilities, reservoirs, munitions facilities, rail yards, and quarries are defined as “industrial property.”  Id. § 554 (full list within statute).


A violation of this section is a misdemeanor.  Id. § 555.3.

Stalking Laws:

Criminal Law:

“Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison.”  Cal. Penal Code § 646.9(a).

Civil Law:

“A person is liable for the tort of stalking when the plaintiff proves all of the following elements of the tort:


(1) The defendant engaged in a pattern of conduct the intent of which was to follow, alarm, place under surveillance, or harass the plaintiff.  In order to establish this element, the plaintiff shall be required to support his or her allegations with independent corroborating evidence.


(2) As a result of that pattern of conduct, either of the following occurred:


(A) The plaintiff reasonably feared for his or her safety, or the safety of an immediate family member. . . . 


(B) The plaintiff suffered substantial emotional distress, and the pattern of conduct would cause a reasonable person to suffer substantial emotional distress.


(3) One of the following:


(A) The defendant, as a part of the pattern of conduct specified in paragraph (1), made a credible threat with either (i) the intent to place the plaintiff in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of an immediate family member, or (ii) reckless disregard for the safety of the plaintiff or that of an immediate family member.  In addition, the plaintiff must have, on at least one occasion, clearly and definitively demanded that the defendant cease and abate his or her pattern of conduct and the defendant persisted in his or her pattern of conduct unless exigent circumstances make the plaintiff's communication of the demand impractical or unsafe.


(B) The defendant violated a restraining order, including, but not limited to, any order issued pursuant to Section 527.6 of the Code of Civil Procedure, prohibiting any act described in subdivision (a).”  Cal. Civ. Code § 1708.7(a).


Exception: “This section shall not be construed to impair any constitutionally protected activity, including, but not limited to, speech, protest, and assembly.” Id. § 1708.7(f).

Use of Information:

Although incomplete, our research has not found any provisions relating to the use of information collected by citizens in enforcement or administrative/legislative actions.

Evidentiary Standards:

Pleading a Claim:

“A person verifying a pleading need not swear to the truth or his or her belief in the truth of the matters stated therein but may, instead, assert the truth or his or her belief in the truth of those matters ‘under penalty of perjury.’”  Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 446(a).

Authentication or Chain of Custody:


“Authentication of a writing means (a) the introduction of evidence sufficient to sustain a finding that it is the writing that the proponent of the evidence claims it is or (b) the establishment of such facts by any other means provided by law.” Cal. Evid. Code § 1400.

Expert Testimony:

Kelly/Frye standard (but does not apply to medical opinions).  See People v. Daveggio & Michaud, 415 P.3d 717, 748-49 & 749 n. 7 (Cal. 2018) (noting Daubert has replaced Kelly/Frye at the federal level but that Kelly/Frye remains the standard in California).


Please note that this discussion is not moderated by the Emmett Environmental Law & Policy Clinic.