I honestly wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't required. The emphasis these days in California's schools seems to be to get kids to graduate ASAP while contributing the minimum amount possible to actually, you know, making sure they get a good education.
I'm actually for paring college down so that you only have to take classes specifically for your major. Why add extra cost and burden to a student who's studying something not related to economics to take an economics course?
I did have to take an econ course though, and I'm happy I did.