The year 2013 saw a number of off-putting developments that demonstrate the general public stance toward simple nudity continues to grow more conservative and less tolerant.
A new ordinance prohibiting public nudity went into effect in what historically has been one of the most liberal and tolerant cities toward nudity in America.
Another clothing optional public beach area has been lost and one more is threatened with elimination unless circumstances change.
In 2013 naturists have seen the trend toward greater freedom to live their lifestyle continue to recede rather than advance.
San Francisco a little less tolerant of weirdness in self expression
Urban nudists misbehaving in the Castro District of San Francisco prompted the Board of Supervisors to pass on Nov. 20, 2012, an ordinance that for the first time criminalizes simple public nudity in San Francisco. The change took effect February 1, 2013.
The legislation exempts nudity at private beaches, private property and special permitted events like Bay to Breakers, Folsom Street Fair and World Naked Bike Ride. Violators can be fined $100 for a first offense, $200 for a second offense within the same year. A third offense within a 12-month period can result in being charged with a misdemeanor that carries a fine of $500 and up to one year in jail.
The most ominous concern about the new ordinance is whether it will have a chilling effect on tolerance of nudity at public beaches with traditional clothing optional areas like Baker Beach. While the portion of the beach north of the "Hazardous Surf" sign has traditionally been clothing optional, the new ordinance could change that.
Baker Beach is part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which makes it federal land. While there is no a federal law against nudity, public nudity is not a constitutionally guaranteed right. That means that state, county and local laws can take precedence on federal lands.
Now that the "Cahill policy" is no longer followed by the California Department of Parks and Recreation, park rangers could choose to enforce the new city ordinance at places like Baker Beach, especially if there is an increase in complaints about nudity there from clothed beach users.
Another clothing optional recreation area off the table for naturists
Fire Island National Seashore authorities announced Feb. 12, 2013 that they will start enforcing New York state law prohibiting public nudity and will ban the decades-long practice of nude sunbathing on the 32-mile-long barrier island off Long Island, New York.
[MORE from Dallas Nudist Culture Examiner: Stopping the loss of public clothing optional recreational areas]
According to the National Park Service press release that announced the policy change, "Public nudity in developed areas and historic landscapes is incompatible with the park’s purposes and values, and diminishes opportunities for current and future generations to enjoy, learn about, or be inspired by park resources or values."
One of the reasons cited by NPS for the change was that "park employees have observed an increase in criminal activity [public lewdness] in the designated clothing-optional areas, but have been unable to appropriately manage this activity despite significant attempts at education and enforcement."
Another clothing optional beach in the cross hairs?
The next clothing optional beach that could be lost is Mazo Beach, located in southern Wisconsin between Mazomanie and Sauk City on the scenic Wisconsin River. The beach has come under increased scrutiny from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Citing the prevalence of lewd acts, public sex and drug use by those who use the area the agency has already closed the beach on weekdays making it available for use only on weekends in an attempt to curb inappropriate behavior.
A department spokesperson has already stated publicly that the action hasn't been effective enough in curbing the criminal activity which raises the possibility that the agency could choose to remove the clothing optional use designation altogether.
To counter the disturbing trend toward more conservative and less tolerant policies toward nude recreation that appears to have accelerated during 2013, national nudist organizations need to do more in the area of public education and intervention in public policy formulation.
Likewise local naturist groups need to get more involved in self-policing efforts at clothing optional sites in their areas to preclude the perceived necessity on the part of local governments for more restrictive policies and enforcement actions at public clothing optional recreational areas.
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