World & Nation

Readers React: Toplessness in Venice: ‘Clothing optional’ is OK with readers

 Venice Beach

A tourist at Venice Beach.

(Los Angeles Times)

Venice Beach wants another go at nude sunbathing, a practice forbidden in the city and county of Los Angeles. But judging by the letters to the editor we received, the law might be out of step with the people on this.

The reaction from readers to a Venice Neighborhood Council motion asking to be exempted from local laws on toplessness ranged from accepting shrugs to a few letters saying Venice faces more pressing concerns. Whatever ends up happening, we can take this as a sign that L.A.'s rapidly gentrifying hamlet by the beach will stay weird.

Patricia Mace of Los Angeles recalls a previous time of legalized toplessness:

This article brought back memories of when nude sunbathing was briefly allowed on Venice Beach decades ago.


The people I knew at the time were all for it, but it wasn’t long before the male oglers, all fully dressed, outnumbered the sunbathers. Some would even come close to you, fully dressed, and lie down to ogle.

Topless sunbathing is great; I think people should try it. But if it’s allowed again in Venice, we’ll see how long it takes for the oglers to outnumber the sunbathers.

Dana Point resident Milt Rouse advocates the acceptance of nudity:

The absurdity of the topless issue in Venice is not the exposure itself but the silly preoccupation many people have about the human body being something that should be hidden.


It is ironic that throughout history it has been largely religious factions that have spearheaded the fight against nudity, this most natural of human states. It is as if they believe that their god has made a mistake.

Just as those who do not like certain television shows or films can change the channel or look away, the answer for people who do not like the human body exposed is not to place laws on others, but, rather, to avert their eyes. The inhibited must not be allowed to place limitations on others.

Erin Darling of Venice says more serious issues face the beach-side community:

As someone born and raised in Venice, I don’t mind news articles covering my iconoclastic neighborhood. However, as a member of the Venice Neighborhood Council, I am a bit dismayed that The Times would cover (uncover?) a mildly risque motion and overlook the more substantive resolutions approved the same night as the toplessness issue was considered.

In response to City Councilman Mike Bonin’s tepid response to Venice’s affordable housing crisis, we passed a resolution calling for the full enforcement of existing laws that limit short-term rentals (such as Airbnb), which threaten to turn the community into a collection of de facto hotels. The council also sought to strengthen efforts to sensibly regulate the conversion of beach bungalows into McMansions.

Times readers are undoubtedly interested in a woman’s freedom to lose her top while at Venice Beach, but surely, they also deserve to know about efforts to prevent Venice residents from losing their homes.

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