San Francisco

San Francisco Nudity Ban Would Prohibit Streaking In (Most) Public Situations


If "Stuff Random Groups of People Like" was still a thing, any list of "Stuff San Franciscans Like" would undoubtedly include public nudity somewhere close to the top. From the Folsom Street Fair to Bay to Breakers to just rocking out with your junk out, public nudity is embedded in the city's very fabric.

Some of that permissibility may be about to change, however, as Supervisor Scott Wiener plans on introducing a bill drastically curtailing the ability to be naked in San Francisco without suffering any consequences (aside from shrinkage).

Wiener's legislation, being introduced at Tuesday afternoon's Board of Supervisors meeting, prohibits the display of genitals and buttocks in city plazas, parklets, sidewalks, streets and on public transportation. The legislation isn't all-encompassing; being naked will still be legal at festivals and parades, nude beaches and on private property.

The supervisor's frustration with widespread public nudity in the city largely stems from a growing contingent that has taken to lounging naked at a plaza in the Castro District on a daily basis, drawing complaints from area residents and neighborhood business owners.

"While most people in San Francisco, myself included, have no problem with occasional public nudity, we've seen a shift in public attitude because of the over-the-top situation at Jane Warner Plaza and elsewhere in the Castro," said Wiener in a statement. "Until recently, public nudity in our city was mostly limited to various street festivals and beaches as well as the occasional naked person wandering the streets. What’s happening now is different. Jane Warner Plaza is the only usable public space in the Castro and serves as the neighborhood’s town square. Use of this small but important space as a near-daily nudist colony, while fun for the nudists, is anything but for the neighborhood as a whole."

"This plaza and this neighborhood are for everyone, and the current situation alienates both residents and visitors," he added. "We are a tolerant neighborhood and city, but there are limits."

Public nudity is currently legal in San Francisco, as long as the naked person is not sexually aroused (although genital coverings are required in city parks). California law doesn't specifically ban nudity, but it does prohibit "lewd acts." Other Bay Area municipalities, like Berkeley and Marin County, have passed their own nudity bans.

If Wiener's legislation passes, offending nudists would be slapped with a $100 fine for the their first offense in a year-long period, $200 for their second offense and a third strike will either garner either a $500 ticket for a misdemeanor citation. Busted clothing-free scofflaws wouldn't be treated as sex offenders, and children under the age of five are exempted from the law.

This bill isn't Wiener's first foray into a public nudity crackdown. Last year, he introduced legislation requiring naked people to put down a towel or a piece of paper when they sit down on a public bench or public transportation and put on clothes when dining at a restaurant.

The city's nudists, and some of their clothes-wearing sympathizers, have pushed back against attempts curtail public nudity.

"The general acceptance of public nudity in is one of those cool only-in-San-Francisco things and we want to encourage the City Leaders and Elected Officials to resist giving in to a few anti-nudists who would like to impose a total citywide ban," reads a petition against the ban that currently boasts 650 signatures. "That's totally un-San Franciscan!"

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