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San Francisco to better regulate public nudity

Nudists in San Francisco’s Castro district.

SAN FRANCISO – Citing a sizable and inappropriate rise in public nudity in San Francisco’s Castro district, Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced legislation Tuesday to expand restrictions on what he called an “ad hoc nudist colony” cavorting around The City’s streets and plazas.

Wiener said that while the Castro’s reputation for promoting free expression is part of the neighbourhood’s character, some nudists have taken matters too far.

“The Castro is not about a group of men exposing themselves every day,” Wiener said, adding that many supporters of the increased restrictions are prominent LGBT individuals.

State law currently does not ban the simple act of appearing in public naked – it only prohibits “lewd” public behaviour – leaving cities and counties to pass their own regulations. Bans on nudity already exist in The City’s parks and Port property, and Wiener’s legislation would expand them to include sidewalks, plazas, parklets and public transit. The law would allow nudity at parades and big annual events such as Bay to Breakers and, of course, the BDSM-themed Folsom Street Fair.

Wiener successfully pushed a law last year requiring that nudists place a cloth buffer between their body and any public seating they occupy. At the time, Wiener said further restrictions were a “conversation for another day.”

“Unfortunately we’ve reached a point when it is necessary,” Wiener said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Earlier this month, Wiener expressed annoyance at the increased prevalence of genital-stimulating jewellery designed to maintain an erection and draw looks from others.

If approved by a majority of supervisors and signed by Mayor Ed Lee, the law will impose fines for nudity-related infractions – $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second offense within a year. While the parks and Port codes require a mandatory misdemeanour criminal charge for a third offense within a year, Wiener’s law would allow for either the misdemeanour or an additional infraction ticket of $500.

Wiener noted that the cities of San Jose and Berkeley already impose public nudity bans. Violations of the proposed law would not be labelled a sex offense requiring registration on the state’s sex offender list.

Despite rare warm weather, there were few nudists midday yesterday in Jane Warner Plaza, the typical Castro venue for bearing it all. Residents noted an increased police presence, with officers on foot and patrolling on bicycles.

One nudist who declined to provide his name said he opposed the expanded ban because “nudity is not sexuality.” (San Francisco Examiner)

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