Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Wiener tackles Castro nudists


Men supporting World Naked Bicycle Day were questioned by a San Francisco Police officer outside the LGBT Community Center in 2008. (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)
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The Castro's nudists would not be allowed in restaurants sans clothing nor be able to place their bare bottoms on outdoor seating in public plazas under a new rule introduced this week.

Openly gay District 8 Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the gayborhood at City Hall, submitted the proposed regulations at Tuesday's board meeting following the summer recess. It would require people over the age of 16 who are nude in public to place an item, such as a towel, underneath them when they sit down on shared seating and would require nudists to don clothing before they enter a restaurant.

"San Francisco is a liberal and tolerant city, and we pride ourselves on that fact," stated Wiener. "Yet, while we have a variety of views about public nudity, we can all agree that when you sit down naked, you should cover the seat, and that you should cover up when you go into a food establishment."

The legislation does nothing to address growing complaints from some residents and merchants who want to see the nudists ordered out of the city's LGBT district. And reaction to the proposed rules has been mixed, with some expressing support and others dismissing it as wrongheaded.

"What crazy stuff to have to waste your [time] on when there are such bigger problems!" one man wrote on Wiener's Facebook page about the proposed rules.

Another person said it doesn't go far enough and public nudity should be banned.

"Seriously just make it against the law to be nude. It solves all the 'problems' with this issue," wrote the man.

In a media release sent out Tuesday, Wiener acknowledged that his proposal only goes so far.

"While there are many opinions about the appropriateness of people going nude in public, there is little disagreement that public nudity should be sanitary. Supervisor Wiener's legislation will help accomplish that goal," stated the email sent by his office.

Nude men have been fixtures along the Castro's sidewalks for years, if not decades. But they gained citywide notoriety after they began congregating – and sitting – in Jane Warner Plaza. The parklet at the corner of Castro and Market streets opened in 2009 and is named after the late lesbian patrol special police officer whose beat included the Castro.

A cover story in the SF Weekly earlier this year focused attention on the nudists and their cause. Subsequent media coverage has focused on neighborhood complaints about the police's inability to do anything about the situation, while tourists have taken to getting their photo taken with the nudists.

Police counter that unless a member of the public is willing to make a citizen's arrest, their hands are tied. Technically, being nude in public isn't a crime unless the person is sexually aroused.

The proposed changes to the city's police code would make it an infraction for anyone to expose their genitals, buttocks or anal region in an eating or drinking establishment "who primary purpose is to serve food." The rule appears to be written so as not to outlaw someone from, say, wearing ass-less chaps in a gay bar.

In response to a question from the Bay Area Reporter , Wiener's office said that bars would be exempted from the rules. Therefore, for example, should the policy be adopted in time for next year's Folsom Street Fair, someone attending the fetish event naked or wearing ass-less chaps could go to a bar that day.

But they would have to cover up if they went inside a restaurant to eat.

Violators of either the sitting or restaurant clothing policy would be fined $100 for their first offense and $200 for a second incident within 12 months. A third infraction within a year's time would warrant a fine of $1,000 and could include up to a year in county jail.

Wiener's legislation is expected to go before the board's land use committee sometime in October.

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