Public nudity is legal throughout San Francisco, with two caveats: the naked person must not be visibly aroused, and some form of genital covering is required in city parks. And while some see the city’s acceptance of public nudity as consistent with free expression, others are increasingly opposed to San Francisco’s unique level of toleration.
City Supervisor Scott Wiener is one such person. He introduced a bill to the Board of Supervisors last week that would ban public nudity in the city's parks and plazas, on its sidewalks and streets, and on public transportation. Under the Wiener legislation, however, it would still be legal to be naked in public at festivals and parades, on nude beaches, and on private property.
According to Wiener, the frequent display of, well, wieners has become too overbearing in recent years, ruining the enjoyment of certain areas of the city, such as Jane Warner Plaza.
“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," Wiener said in a statement, according to the Huffington Post.
"Until recently," Wiener said in the statement, "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."
Under Wiener’s bill, nudists would not be treated as sex criminals. During each 12-month period, a naked person would receive a $100 fine for the first offense, a $200 fine for the second offense, and either a $500 fine or a misdemeanor charge for the third offense, according to the San Francisco Chronicle via SFGate. Children under 5 would be exempt from the nudity ban.
While Wiener’s bill has garnered some support, it also has plenty of detractors. For instance, a Change.org petition is currently attempting to block the passage of the measure.
“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,” the petition reads. “That's totally un-San Franciscan! “
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.