Ban on nudity in public places in San Francisco

San Francisco, the city synonymous with individual freedom, voted to ban nudity in public places.  The vote for the ban was close – 6 to 5.  Nudity will still be allowed in sanctioned times such as at certain parades and festivals.  Babies, mischievous toddlers and nursing mothers are exempt from the new ban. In 2011, San Francisco banned nudity in privately owned businesses such as restaurants.

Protestors to the new ban are appearing in the nude in places like City Hall.  Officials claim that they made the ban only in response to a sharp increase in complaints about public nudity, especially in the Castro district.  Police prefer to move along nudists rather than make arrests.  Protestors claim they are worried about the erosion of personal freedoms more than the right to get naked.

Problems with the naked guys

Nudity in San Francisco was nothing new.  Unlike most American cities, San Francisco authorities generally ignored nudists or anyone deciding to get an all-over body tan.  But even on the streets of San Francisco, nudity was an exception rather than the rule.  Most city dwellers prefer to go about clothed.

In the last two years, nudity has increased because of the same group of men nicknamed “The Naked Guys” by local officials.  The corner of Castro and Market Streets even acquired the local nickname “Buff Stop” because that became a Naked Guy hang out (so to speak.)  The men wore only sandals, backpacks, sunglasses and the occasional hat.

Supervisor Scott Wiener told reporters that the city council had been receiving the most complaints from private citizens living in the city rather than by business owners or offended tourists.  He said that the most people complaining were gay men.  The council had hoped the Naked Guys would have taken the hint after the 2011 ban on nudity in privately owned businesses, but instead incidences of public nudity increased.

Legalities of nudity ban

The public nudity ban does not go into effect until February of 2013.  Offenders will get slapped with fines ranging from $100 to $500 dollars.  Repeat offenders will face jail time of up to one year.

Public nudity is not illegal in the state of California, as long as there is no “lewd intent.”  Women going topless to get a tan may not fall under the new ban, for example, as long as they keep some form of bikini bottoms, shorts or underwear on.  Men will still be allowed to go topless.