The Parking Lot Caper

This past Monday, the Mules met with the Northridge Mall general manager Susan Causey to discuss last Saturday’s events. We had a good conversation.

I first explained that I travel with my mule who carries all my belongings. We live together and have travelled all over the western United States for over 30 years, migrating with the seasons. We explained that we were passing through Salinas and had to go to Best Buy to return an item. While attempting to secure Little Girl in the parking lot, we were approached by Salinas Police who said I couldn’t be in the parking lot. The officers called security who ordered me off and said that I would be arrested for trespassing if I didn’t leave when I clearly stated that I was there to go to Best Buy.

Ms. Causey said that she was off work on Saturday, but did hear about what happened. It was her understanding that Salinas Police said that they saw a transient with a mule on the property and that there is a livestock code in the city and county that prohibit livestock from being on private property without a permit. She said that Salinas Police called shopping center security. When she heard about this after the fact, she informed the security team that if a person is at the shopping center legitimately to conduct business, the person needs to be able to conduct business. If it was a safety issue, security could have had a guard stand by Little Girl while I was in Best Buy making my return.

We responded that to claim safety to have a mule in the remote area of the parking lot is nonsense. There is a degree of safety for everything you do. You walk out your front door, you could fall down and hurt yourself. But do we suspend our right to do that? Of course not. A motorist driving in a parking lot has potential to hit a pedestrian walking through the parking lot to the store.

The degree that the mule presents of not being safe is far, far less than the degree of safety which the high speed or distracted motorist in an automobile presents. The automobile is a heavy machine moving about 5-15 miles per hour in a parking lot. When it strikes somebody, the consequences can potentially be deadly. The mules moving at 2-3 miles per hour are not going to strike anybody. Very unlikely because mules are take flight animals. They don’t go towards people, they go the opposite direction. The safety contention is very flaky. To deny us the right to enter a shopping center on the guise of safety is outrageous.

Ms. Causey also brought up a hypothetical situation where security guard may have been concerned about safety of a child going up and startling the mule. This is also a ridiculous reason. We were in a remote section. The parent is responsible for what their children do. If a child purposely pesters the mule, the parent is responsible for their child’s actions. If refusing the mules access to the parking is due to a safety issue, then all automobiles should be banned from parking lots, because a child might run between cars and get hit by a motorist. Or, should children be banned from parking lots to prevent a safety incident from occurring?

The Mules thank Ms. Causey from Northridge Mall for taking the time to meet with us. At the end of our conversation, we were on the same page that any person entering their parking lot with a horse or mule has the right to access their shopping center to do business. We ended by taking a photo of Little Girl with her and her team.

The shopping center caper in the Northridge Mall parking lot is a perfect example of how city and county codes and ordinances conflict with state and federal law for equestrians’ right to travel on the public thoroughfare. These parking lots are connected to the public thoroughfare.

When somebody leaves their house, gets in their car, gets on the public thoroughfare with the intent of going to a store to buy food or supplies for themselves and their family, they fully expect that when they leave the public thoroughfare to enter the parking lot, they will be able to park their car, walk into the store, buy their groceries and supplies, return to their car, put their groceries and supplies in their car, and leave to go home.

To have that denied simply because a person arrives by horse or mule and not in an automobile is outrageous. To have officers or security guards stop and interrogate a person simply because they arrived by mule and not allow them to park because the person didn’t arrive in a high speed automobile is ridiculous.

This is not 1817 where you load up your six-shooter and go out to shoot some deer for dinner. This is 2017. You start up your car, proceed on the public thoroughfare, enter a parking lot and go into a grocery store or a big box store, which controls the food and supplies. That’s where you get it. If you don’t get it there, you’re not going to get it.

For a police officer or security guard to arbitrarily decide who gets to eat or get supplies and who doesn’t is an outrageous situation. The Mules on that particular day were a perfect example about how outrageous things will get. It certainly showed that those limits must be thoroughly watched and constrained.

Big box shopping centers and grocery stores should have a small area set aside for equestrians as they have parking spaces for motorists and bike racks for cyclists. 

Thank you to Andre Domine who sent us this photo taken at a New York Walmart parking lot, where they have space set aside for equestrians.
Thank you to Maurice Braden who sent us this other photo of horse parking at his local grocery store in Pennsylvania.

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