Supervisors approve nudity ban on close vote

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.


than have them littering the streets and upsetting people, I agree. A zero tolerance approach to public nuisance is significantly responsible for cleaning up former cesspits like Times Squate in NYC.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 23, 2012 @ 8:30 am

That is of course not what I meant. I do not think of homeless people as a public nuisance. I think it is unbelievable to see everyone get so hotheaded about some cock and ass when there does't seem to be any dismay over the idea of letting people live on the streets. A much more important topic to be emotionally affected by.

It is not a zero tolerance to public nuisance, but zero tolerance to not caring and letting people live on the street that I stand for.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 24, 2012 @ 6:22 am

Really- This City spends so much time, energy and money on the homeless issue it is out of control. One of the reasons why I think we have so many homeless in SF is due in part to the City's compassion and reputation for homeless tolerance. In many other place sthey are made to move along and would not be tolerated int he numbers that they are. Bottom line, if a person living in SF on the streets really wants to get off the streets there are tons of resources etc. to help that person do it.

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 9:02 am

In most other cities, the homeless are swept out of range of white eyes. In San Francisco, there is nowhere else to sweep them to but the crescent running from the TL through Western SOMA to the North Mission, so the cops contain the homeless, substance abusers and the mentally ill, not to mention all combinations and permutations thereof, in our neighborhood.

Now that the WSOMA and and North Mission are gentrifying, the Lee administration is taking steps to pit neighbors against the homeless by deploying the DPW to use nonlethal chemical weapons to "clean up" the non residential spaces where the homeless seek shelter so that the homeless set up camp in adjacent residential neighborhoods.

I am sure that if the homeless were naked, that would prick the ears of opportunistic politicians.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 9:48 am

It's warmer, more spacious and it's already riddled with crime and drugs so a little more would hardly be noticed. Maybe a block grant to the almost bankrupt city of Oakland would be sufficient to get them to agree.

There is no upside to SF from having a large population of economically inactive people who consume services and contribute nothing. And having them close to downtown makes the problem orders of magnitude worse.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 10:58 am

The Homeless are not contained by any stretch of the imagination in SF. I have seen plenty in the Castro ( can you find a whiter neighborhood?), the Haight etc. The simple fact is that homeless people tend to congregate closer to their sources of substance abuse and where the services are. The other factor is where there is a large amount of foot traffic if they are panhandling. Not a lot of drug dealers out on the street in the Sunset or Richmond or a ton of foot traffic hence the relative lack of homeless- still there but not like in TL.

As a lifelong resident of the City, frankly, I am tired of us being a magnet for the homeless. It would be nice to be able to walk from my office to get lunch without the stench of urine in the air.

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 11:11 am

the situation where SF is now a ,magnet for the homeless, even to the point where other cities pay to semd their homeless here.

It's quite obvious that if SF throws more taxpayer money at the homeless than any other city, tht they will all come here, especially given the mild weather and liberal populace.

We should be discouraging the homeless by cutting their services, not pandering expensively to them. This city will dorwn in an ocean of itinerants unless we reverse some of these enabling policies. Cleaning up the TL and mid-market would be a start.

Marcos's ideas and posts are becoming more and more whacked as he seemingly loses all connection with reality.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 11:53 am

Free "everything" to the homeless?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

medical care and a variety of counseling and help services ain't nothing. Of course, it was even worse before Gavin stopped the insane cash handouts but, even so, the current enabling of the homeless is out of control and compounding the problem.

Oh, and they dont even vote so you don't even have the usual tired demographic argument. And the average homeless person is a lot more boring than Tim's rich people

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 1:39 pm

Services tend to congregate around where the SFPD contains homelessness.

You can't seriously try to compare the prevalence of homeless outside of the "Fertile Crescent of Containment" with that inside and expect to be taken seriously.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

We basically have two different theories- you think that police actively move to contain the homeless to certain sections of the City. I am more of a free will kind of guy and believe that the homeless congregate of their own free will in areas that have services that use- both legal and otherwise and where there is cheap housing that they can get when they have the cash (no many SROs in the Sunset), shelters, and foot traffic to panhandle off of.

Two different ideas/theories. No real way to prove either point- so I think we ought to agree to disagree- cheers!

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 12:39 pm

Because a lot of crime happens where the homeless people choose to be, and because the police target criminal behavior (duh, it's their job) then obviously there will be more police activity where the homeless people are. It's like complaining when the cops spend more time in the Mission or Bayview. They go where the crime is.

But there is no restriction of the civil rights of homeless people to move around freely. They're just not going to go where there aren't free and easy pickings.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

Clearly the police do not effectively target criminal behavior given that you all whine about how prevalent while you figure out a way to maintain your composure while shrieking that the Supervisors pass yet another coercive law that diverts cops from enforcing crimes perpetrated by dangerous criminals to arresting naked people. Well played!

I'm sure that you all could figure out more safe conduct that can be made illegal because it offends the inflexible that will suck down even more major cop resources without possibly putting our lazy police force in harm's way. Why fuck with the drug dealers and gang members who are probably armed, defending their profits, and likely to shoot first when you can fuck with the homeless and now nudists?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 2:24 pm

First you claim that the cops are redlining where the homeless hang out - a palpably false statement.

Now you claim they are too busy protecting SF's children from ugly old fat bald naked guys to ever do that.

So which is it?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

It is both, cops prefer to harass nudists and the homeless because there is less danger to the cops than if the cops were to harass violent criminals and gang members. Of course, this leaves taxpaying citizens to deal with the violence that our platinum pension accruing officers are loathe to jeopardize by putting their lives on the line for us like we pay them to do.

One measure of how far cops put themselves out there is the number of injuries and deaths sustained. By that measure, the SFPD is phoning it in.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

a successful, prosperous and affluent city and, as everyone knows, crime is primarily a low-income problem. That's why Oakland has more crime than SF even though their population is only half.

And of course if there is less serious crime then the cops can crack down on quality-of-life and nuisance crimes, which devalue the lifestyle of a majority of Sf'ers. Moreover, the "broken windows" theory of crime prevention entails that even minor infractions should attract zero tolerance policing.

I am comfortable with the performance of SFPD.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

So residents of low income neighborhoods where there is more violent and gang crime should just pay our taxes, shut up and live with it because the cops are too focused on the homeless and the nudists?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 6:21 pm

It's the job of SFPD to priotize their efforts and they do a good job of that. But just because serious crimes occur does not mean we should let slide on quality of life crimes. It's a slippery slope and most voters are tought on crime and want zero tolerance.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

I'd rather see the cops doing what it takes so that I don't have to clean up a heroin shit from my garage well than to focus their attentions on naked trolls, thanks.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 12:10 pm

Realistically, is there going to be hours and hours of a cops day spent policing this issue? I really doubt it. It is going to come up when a cop is walking a beat or on patrol, sees the naked person, stops him or her, gives them a ticket and moves on. all done in 10-15 minutes.

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

Cops go where the doughnuts are.

Posted by lillipublicans on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 8:47 pm

a city with a high crime rate.

However, most of the crime occurs in the downtown offices of bankers, developers and their enablers.

"Broken windows", quality of life and nuisance crimes are code words for laws against poor people.

When we wonder how Nazi Germany happened, look to comments like this one above.

"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.": Anatole France

Leave the nudists alone. Prosecute the criminal bankers and killer cops.

Posted by Eddie on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 11:59 am

Avalos, Campos,Kim, Mar and Olague need to stand by their decision and support the nudists by taking off their clothes and stand with them in the Castro for the sake of solidarity.
When they all end up in jail, their reformed misdemeanant DV Sheriff Ross can place them in a separate cell where only nude prisoners can be housed. Optional cock socks and pussy towels given fir good behavior.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 24, 2012 @ 2:01 am

I just finished reading the Danish magazine Se Og Hor to see the nude photos of Kate Middleton and was not surprised at all to see fully nude photos of "se og hor girls". The Danish tabloid has been publishing nude photos for decades. The British tabloid , The Sun, has been publishing topfree women for decades. The German magazine Bravo identical to Tiger Beat magazine publishes full nude photos of men and women as young as 14 and is available for kids to buy as young as 12 and is more progressive then the Bay Guardian.

If the Bay Guardian thinks its progressive by showing nudity its really about 40 years behind European publications. All of the staff at the Bay Guardian should subscribe to what Europe produces. Nudity is so prevalent in European culture that it actually becomes boring. You see nudity on TV, in print, on billboards, on beaches, in parks , in waterparks and pools in every European country. The Bay Guardian needs to make the point on how far behind San Francisco is with accepting nudity.

Posted by Bob on Nov. 24, 2012 @ 11:09 am

There is something wrong with the US ( not just SF) because we are not as accepting as Europe regarding public nudity.

I am ok with that. We are different countries with different morals, traditions, and norms. In Germany some speech is illegal due to their history with Nazism. Here in the US, you are free to be a Nazi or a communist so long as you don't hurt anyone. If you want the US to change it's nudity laws to be more like Germany's , you might just have an easier time learning German and immigrating.

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

places where they can be naked, including beaches, gay clubs and of course their own home and garden.

It's not about their right to be naked - it's about their right to be annoying and controversial just for the sake of it. Petty and self-absorbed.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 26, 2012 @ 4:12 pm

The solipsism of the arguments opposing this ban is revolting.

There's nothing fascistic about requiring people to cover a bare (haha!) minimum of their bodies (i.e. genitalia).

You do not have an inherent right to be an exhibitionist. What you do in private is your business, but once you enter the public realm, the WHOLE COMMUNITY has the right to set boundaries and determine what is or is not "decent." And that is precisely what they have done.

You would not try to make a legal argument that fucking in public is your right regardless of whether it offends others, so trying to say that you have a right to bare your genitalia regardless of whether it offends others is just as false.

Posted by Quelle Horreur! on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 11:03 am

Casual, occasional nudity is different from exhibitionism and this law treats both equivalently and bans both.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 11:13 am

It might be different in the mind of the person who is naked- but to the vast majority of people confronted with the naked person, it is the same.

Posted by D. Native on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 12:23 pm

Because the time, place and manner of conduct that one engages in while not clothed is legally significant.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 1:58 pm

If it's wrong for me to mug you in one zip code, it's wrong in every zip code.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 2:17 pm

So you oppose gang injunctions?

Posted by marcos on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

specific gangs regardless of area's. And yes, I support them as does almost every city that needs them.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

Used to be you couldn't carry a weapon in a national park but could elsewhere. That has changed. There are many cases where something is legal in one area but not another. Speed limits, for instance.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

Legal and moral imperatives do not know where the zip code boundaries are.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 3:16 pm

Seems like the youth of America have tried just about everything to shock their uptight and puritanical elders. But there's almost nothing left that can shock the old farts anymore. Long hair on young men doesn't do it. Purple punk locks, tattoos and exposed midriffs barely raise an eyebrown. Men wearing skirts and an earring in the ear doesn't register. So, why hasn't nudity been tried? It seems that the sight of a naked human body still has major shock value... enought to startle the willys (ahem!) off the old fart set. Carpe diem!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 1:44 pm

This "thing" has been debated to death. It's Tuesday already! Don't you have anything new to report in the politics blog?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 2:29 pm

If Steven and Tim could do any other job, which they self-evidently could not, they would have been out of the door long ago, ever since Bruce sold them down the river.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 27, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

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