Nudists claim discrimination after being banned from pool in Huntington Beach

A nudist group is claiming that Huntington Beach is discriminating against it.

About 15 nudists told council members that City Manager Fred Wilson "arbitrarily imposed" a regulation last year preventing their group, Naturists in the OC, from reserving the City Gym and Pool, which they have been doing for the past eight years.

The administrative regulation prohibits nudity at any city recreation facility, including the gym and pool, stating that nudity interferes with city employees' ability to perform their jobs.

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City employees have complained for years about the private events hosted by Naturists in the OC, Wilson and City Atty. Michael Gates said Tuesday after the City Council meeting. Wilson said he issued the regulation to enforce a 2007 city ordinance banning nudity in public spaces.

Naturists in the OC formed about the time Huntington Beach approved the ordinance and since then, had rented the City Gym and Pool for its gatherings in January, February, March, September, October and November, said R. Allen Baylis, an attorney and Naturists member.

"We've been doing this for eight years," he said. "We come in and cover the windows so people can swim, play volleyball, basketball or do whatever activities are available."

Baylis tried to rent the facility for an event in October but was denied by Community Services Director Janeen Laudenback, who wrote in a letter dated Sept. 28, 2015, that attendees of the City Gym and Pool are required to be clothed.

Rolf Holbach, president of the Southern California Naturist Assn., said the city should rescind the regulation and allow nudists to continue renting the gym for their seasonal get-togethers.

"It would be unfortunate to let all our members and followers know that we, as respectful and law-abiding naturists, are now being singled out and are no longer welcome in the city," he said.

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Holbach added that the events naturists host are private and for members only. Wilson said those activities never were permissible and were allowed to occur only because of the opinions of the former city attorney.

"Our new city attorney has opined differently," Wilson said.

City Council members listened to the nudists' concerns but took no action because the gym rental issue was not on their meeting agenda.

Carpio writes for Times Community News.

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