Our 38th annual survey of Northern California naked fun in the sun
Editors Note: Below you'll find our annual update on the state of nude beaches in the Bay Area, along with detailed guides and directions to several of our favorites. For details on dozens more, please see our complete Nude Beaches Guide, which we are in the process of updating.
NUDE BEACHES Arrests for being naked on the sand, anti-nudity warning signs going up at previously unthreatened spots, outright threats of beach closures, social activists making their mark on San Francisco's most well-known clothing-optional beach: this is shaping up to be one of Northern California's busiest nude beach seasons in recent memory.
Faced with a July 1 deadline, on June 28 Governor Jerry Brown's administration announced it saved or would stall shutting down all but one of 70 state parks and beaches targeted for closure due to budgetary shortfalls. These include three sites in our annual guide: Montara's Gray Whale Cove, Carmel's Garrapata State Park, and Zmudowski State Beach in northern Monterey County.
Officials said they would use $13 million in bond money in the budget to keep the properties running at least through summer. Some 40 parks will remain open for an estimated one to five years, due to temporary funding and support agreements being negotiated with nonprofit foundations and other organizations. More than 25 other properties, including Gray Whale Cove, also known as Devil's Slide, will keep going while deals are completed.
When asked exactly how long Gray Whale Cove, Garrapata, and Zmudowski would stay open, California State Parks spokesman Dennis Weber told me they could keep going for a month, the entire summer, a year, or even longer. "We don't know how much time we have," he said.
Paul Keel, the state parks sector superintendent for the area that includes Gray Whale Cove, was more optimistic. He told me he's keeping the popular beach open through at least the end of July because while "nothing's been signed or inked, it's fair to say we are optimistic" an agreement with a private operator or nonprofit will be finalized before then. Until the state took control, the site was run by a private licensee, San Francisco developer Carl Ernst and his company, Gray Whale Cove Enterprises, Inc.
Ruth Coleman, head of the State Parks and Recreation Department, said the bonds would fund solar power systems, as well as automatic pay machines that take credit and debit cards. And visitors arriving at Devil's Slide or Garrapata are likely to notice signs that urge them to pay for parking instead of parking outside.
The card machines are likely to be particularly handy at Devil's Slide after a long-awaited tunnel bypassing rockslide-prone Highway 1, which remains the access point to the beach, is expected to open this fall. Keel suspects the Devil's Slide Tunnel will bring larger crowds to the beach.
But the news wasn't all good. Maintenance and garbage pick up operations are likely to remain reduced or eliminated. In late June, Brown partly vetoed a larger, $41 million funding bill that had been OKed by the state legislature. State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), who coauthored the bigger funding plan, criticized the veto, calling it "a lost opportunity to take action." Another lost opportunity: in November 2010, California voters rejected a ballot initiative that would have raised about $500 million for state parks.