San Francisco considers public nudity ban -- with exceptions


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San Francisco officials this week will consider a ban on public nakedness.

This being San Francisco, there are exceptions:

The preschool set still could go diaper-less anywhere and everywhere. Fetishists could drop trou for a flogging during the annual Folsom Street Fair, billed as the world’s largest leather fest.

The proposed ban would not stop the athletically inclined from jettisoning their shorts during the Bay to Breakers run — the historic, costume-optional race through this city’s microclimates (chilly to chillier). And Dykes on Bikes could wear — or not — whatever they wished during the Pride Parade.


But a starkers stroll down Market Street would most emphatically be out if the prohibition passes.

‘In its traditional form in San Francisco, public nudity was fine,’ said Supervisor Scott Wiener, who represents the Castro District and introduced both ordinances. ‘It was fine to have a random [naked] person walking through the neighborhood once in a while. It was fine at public festivals and parades.’

But although many talk about the tolerant ‘spirit of San Francisco,’ Wiener said, ‘what’s happening now is … a caricature.’

You can thank the ‘Naked Guys’ for that.

Until recently, officials generally had turned the other cheek to questions of public nudity — particularly when the sightings of sandal-clad men with all-body tans around the Castro District, the heart of gay San Francisco, were sporadic.

Then two years ago, when Jane Warner Plaza was dedicated at the intersection of Castro and Market streets, the number of Naked Guys grew. And so did the complaints, from gay men who live in the area and shop owners near the gathering spot eventually dubbed the ‘Buff Stop.’

Wiener’s attempt at regulation last year banned nudity in restaurants and established the outdoor seating guidelines. The goal was to bring a little civility back into the practice of urban nudism. Unfortunately, it had the opposite effect.


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