Supervisors approve nudity ban on close vote

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The presence of naked guys in the Castro has prompted a citywide ban on nudity.
Mike Koozmin

Over the objections of progressive supervisors and under threats of a lawsuit from nudists and civil liberties advocates, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors today voted 6-5 to outlaw public nudity in the city. Supervisors voting against the ban were David Campos, Christina Olague, John Avalos, Eric Mar, and Jane Kim.

Sup. Scott Wiener, who sponsored the measure, cast it as a last resort to deal with what has become daily displays of nudity in the Castro district he represents (and most recently around City Hall as his legislation was being considering in committees), noting that, “Public nudity is part of San Francisco and is appropriate in some circumstances.” His legislation makes exceptions for permitted events such as the Folsom Street Fair and Bay-to-Breakers.

But Wiener said that “public nudity can go too far,” as he says it has over the last two years in the Castro's Jane Warner Plaza, and that “freedom of expression and acceptance does not mean you can do whatever you want.”

Campos echoed some of the legal concerns that critics of the legislation have raised, noting that, “As a lawyer, I do worry about when you ban specific conduct and then you have exceptions to that.” He also questioned whether Wiener has done enough to try to mediate the increasingly divisive conflict he's been having with the nudist community and whether this was an appropriate use of scarce police resources.

“I don't believe we're at the point of saying this becomes a priority over violent crime,” Campos said, noting that he's been unable to get more police foot patrols to deal with a recent spate of violent crimes in the Mission, which shares a police station with the Castro.

Avalos said it was absurd to focus city resources on this victimless issue when the city is wrestling with far more serious problems, such as poverty and violence, and he played a clip from the film Catch 22 where a soldier goes naked to a ceremony to highlight that absurdity. “I will refuse to put on this fig leaf, I just can't do it,” Avalos said.

Mar said he sympathized with Wiener's concerns, but agreed with Campos that Wiener could have done more to mediate this situation before both sides dug in: “I really don't think we need citywide legislation, particularly overbroad legislation, to deal with a problem isolated to one neighborhood.”

Wiener seemed stung by the comments and said he could cite example of each supervisor pushing resolutions or ordinances that dealt with similarly trivial issues, comparing it to refusing to deal with a constituent's pothole complaint until that supervisor fixed Muni and solved the city's housing problem. But Campos pushed back, calling the comparison ridiculous and saying there was no reason for a citywide ban to deal with such an isolated issue.

Nudists at the hearing reacted angrily to the approval and started to disrobe before President David Chiu ordered deputies to intervene and abruptly recessed the hearing. Now, it will likely be up to the courts to decide whether Wiener's concerns about weiners can withstand legal scrutiny.

Comments

Good riddance to bad exhibtionist rubbish

Posted by Dedicated_local on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 4:57 pm

Why do people think it's acceptable to refer to other human beings as "rubbish." I guess the upside is it immediately clues others in to how close-minded and hateful you are.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 10:52 am

You think naked people are "rubbish." I think billboards are rubbish. People are disgusted by the sight of many things but you don't get to make something illegal just because it disgusts you. Ideally, you've got to have better reasons than that before you take away someone's rights.

I know you're 100% certain that public nudity is one thing that should definitely be banned. But there are many people that are disgusted by the sight of men holding hands in public, or homeless people, or billboards, or public art, or black and brown people, or KKK members, or bare ankles, etc. And there are people who, like you, are 100% certain that the things that disgusts them should be banned in public.

Just as I'm guessing you don't have a problem with womens' ankles and don't think burkas should be mandatory, I also do not have a problem with nudity and don't think it must be banned in public. Public nudity does not happen to be "my thing." I have never gone nude in public myself, and have no intention of ever doing so in my life. But like many people in this city, I'm not bothered by those who chose this form of expression.

And even if I were bothered, I wouldn't expect everyone else in the city to cater to my specific wishes. It's called "live and let live." The whole live-and-let-live thing is a huge part of what make San Francisco special. I came to this city and felt accepted in a way that I never did in my rural, midwest, hometown. I happen to be very thankful for this acceptance and wish to extend it to others.

I realize it's too much to expect at this moment in human history for everyone to be okay with public nudity just as it's too much to expect for everyone to be okay with men kissing hands in public -- but is it too much to expect for SAN FRANCISCO, particularly the CASTRO, to be okay with these things? Many of us certainly wish it weren't.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 11:36 am

Oops!

CORRECTION: I meant to say either "men kissing in public" or "men holding hands in public," not "men kissing hands in public!" : )

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 11:43 am

People holding hands and kissing is a public display of affection, not a public display of exhibitionist sexuality in a neighborhood commercial district.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 11:52 am

But Marcos, nudity of the lewd and sexual type that you speak of, is already "covered" under California state law. We didn't need the local nudity ban to prohibit it.

And while you may think lewd exhibitionism is the issue here, from what I'm reading, many, many people commenting on articles here and elsewhere think that public nudity itself is disgusting and should never be allowed. Although some folks (by no means all) will make an exception for say, Baker Beach.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

The legislation's sponsors pointed out that the cock rings and compulsive exhibitionist nature of the urban nudists was the problem. Other observers are entitled to their own opinions. Nobody has not addressed the issue of why the cops would not enforce Section 314.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 12:41 pm

It's lame for SFBG to hand their hat on this crock.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

i would hardly call publishing an ariticle, "hanging their hat on this." I can assure you that many of the SFBG readers are interested in this story. I'd tell you go read the Chronicle instead, except they happen to be making a much bigger deal out of this issue than the Guardian so you'll have trouble discussing something of significance there as well.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 10:58 am

How embarrassing. You've got the whole rest of the country to banish humanity but in San Francisco now too? God it's a sad sad day for a once great city.

Posted by Kevin Reynolds on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

And there was me thinking it is neurotic to want to strut your package in front of children.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

It is pretty much the definition of a "neurotic control freak" that one would want to ban nudity citywide because you don't want to see naked ugly old men in one part of the city.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

We haven't reached the stage where the Castro is a gay ghetto that band hetero's, families and children. There are nude beaches if you want to ogle fat hairy old men.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

Yes, I think kids should be sheltered from the sight of other human beings bodies. Why is nudity an issue for you? I personally prefer clothes, but we were brought into this world without any on. Its the puritanical beliefs of others that say that the human form and flesh is indecent. The reproductive organs in themselves do not force an idea of sexuality. I'm glad that they haven't ruled that we need to wear burkas, a similar idea, at a different extreme, in that a by society's rule, a certain if any part of the body is indecent.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 6:54 pm

public, then that's just too bad? How sensitive and empathetic of you.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 7:25 am

People are disgusted by the sight of many things. That's the whole point here. You don't get to make something illegal just because it disgusts someone. You've got to have better reasons than that.

I know you're 100% sure that public nudity is one thing that should be banned. But there are many people that are disgusted by the sight of men holding hands in public, or homeless people, or billboards, or black and brown people, or KKK members, or bare ankles, etc. etc. etc. And there are people who, like you, are 100% certain that the things that disgusts them should be banned in public.

Just as I'm guessing you don't have a problem with womens' ankles and don't think burkas should be mandatory, I also do not have a problem with nudity and don't think it must be banned in public. Public nudity does not happen to be "my thing." I have never gone nude in public myself, and have no intention of ever doing so in my life. But like many people in this city, I'm not bothered by those who chose this form of expression.

And even if I were bothered, I wouldn't expect everyone else in the city to cater to my wishes. It's called live and let live. The whole "live and let live" thing is a huge part of what make San Francisco special.

I realize it's too much to expect at this moment in human history for everyone to be okay with public nudity just as it's too much to expect for everyone to be okay with men kissing in public -- but is it too much to expect for SAN FRANCISCO to be okay with these things? I, for one, sure wish it weren't.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 11:20 am

San Franciscans are not disgusted with occasional and casual public nudity, but people are disgusted with being nonconsensually involved in sexual conduct as in exhibitionism, especially when it involves the kind of people that most folks would prefer to not see naked. Wiener has successfully harnessed objections to nonconsensual sex, that which borders on rape, exhibitionism practiced in a neighborhood commercial district in an attack on nudity in general.

There is a difference between casually being naked every now and again and hanging out posing against planters with your junk explicitly thrust front and center for all to see.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 11:28 am

If the nudity is lewd and sexual it's already illegal under the California Penal Code. We didn't need the local nudity ban to "cover" that. We threw the naked baby out with the bath water.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 12:16 pm

Your premise is bullshit. If "San Franciscans" were "not disgusted with occasional and casual public nudity" then no one from San Francisco would be complaining about the nudists and this would not have ever come up as an issue before the Board of Supervisors.

Posted by Bullshit on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

There has been occasional, casual nudity going on in San Francisco for decades now. The problem "arose" when the "urban nudists" began to compulsively exhibit themselves every sunny day in the Upper Market and Castro Neighborhood Commercial Districts.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

waiting until the inevitable passing of new laws?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

Seeing them jerk off in their cockrings isn't.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

public masturbation is, of course, already illegal. we didn't need a new law to cover that.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 11:39 am

Then the question is why the SFPD is not enforcing Penal Code 314 if that is indeed the problem.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 11:51 am
Yes

Yes, of course. Nine times out of ten with these things the question is why the horrendously overpaid cops in this town aren't doing what they should be.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

them to do. Which system would you prefer to that?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

"The cops in this town do what those whom we elected tell them to do."

?????????

What are you talking about?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 28, 2012 @ 9:19 am

I agree, Kevin.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 9:10 pm

Mar is an idiot. If a bunch of nudists came into the Richmond district, he'd be getting pelted daily by angry residents to get this ban into place. Although since he doesn't have to run again, he probably wouldn't care.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 5:33 pm

Abuser Island. Now he's re-elected, he can revert to form.

Olague must be gnashing her teeth right now.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 5:45 pm

funny how that works, right?
Mar kicked ass on the realtors in the Richmond and Weiner is on his knees to them in the Castro.

Posted by RickinSF on Nov. 23, 2012 @ 11:56 pm

Is anyone still claiming that David Chiu is a progressive for making victimless annoyances crimes?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 5:56 pm

prance around naked in front of families.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

The Castro nudists could have been addressed for that neighborhood without having a citywide ban, there is nothing liberal or progressive about punishing folks who are not causing a problem.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 6:49 pm

They were pushing the edge again and again. They've been there for years, and only their behavior in the last number of months drove this. While I think the citywide ban is too much, something needed to be done.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

So how would you have done it Marcos?

Posted by D. native on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

18 month moratorium on nudity in the Castro and Upper Market NCDs and parklets to send a message.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

Did anyone try to suggest this to Wiener?

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 7:16 pm

I suggested to the sponsor that he restrict the reach of the law to where the problem was but he was not interested in that.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 7:36 pm

you can't have different laws for different zip codes and neighborhoods. If you say you cannot be nude west of Noe Street, then the block between Noe and Sanchez will be full of nudes. And so on.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 7:27 am

We tailor legislation by neighborhood all the time. Think of it as specialized zoning.

Posted by Hortencia on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 10:28 am

unless it's somewhere like Wyoming where there's probably only one zip code for the whole State anyway. If it's wrong in Hayes Valley, it's probably wrong in Russian Hill too.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 10:52 am

Zoning is about land-use and buildings not personal behavior.

Posted by Bullshit on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

Laws can be crafted to be applicable to any scale that can pass muster. Some sidewalks in California allow skateboarding and some don't, it depends on where. Laws can set the terms of time, place and manner of speech.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

If the problem to be solved here is one of exhibitionism and if the cops are unwilling to enforce section 314 of the penal code, then a reasonable step is to prohibit nudity in places where exhibitionists can reasonably expect to "get a rise" out of the unwilling. Either they stop their conduct, they put on the bare minimum of clothing, a cock sock for example and remain creepy in the Castro but legally, or they try other neighborhoods. In the last case, should they try that, then the reach of the law can be suitable expanded to handle that eventuality. My bet is that they go for the cock socks and continue to creep out the Castro NCD.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 10:36 am

where. Many of the complaints that Wiener received were from castro residents because, not surprisingly, that's where the nudity mostly is.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 10:53 am

The presumption that the urban nudists would venture out naked in other neighborhoods is unfounded at this point. A moratorium or targeted ban would have tested that question instead of prejudicially impinging on the rights of others who are not compulsive, creepy exhibitionists in neighborhood commercial districts.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 11:34 am

What matters is that it is not acceptable public behaviour anywhere, and any law must apply to the entire jurisdiction.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 21, 2012 @ 12:11 pm

How is it unfounded? Do you really think the nudists would go into the Richmond or the Sunset? How about the Bayview or the Fillmore?

They do it in the Castro because they can get away with it.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 22, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

I wish I'd read this post before I posted my own pointless comment.

I actually think this is a really good idea too.

Posted by Snoozers on Nov. 20, 2012 @ 8:02 pm