Although Tuesday’s “nude-in” at City Hall involved slightly more journalists than nudists, a small band of completely disrobed people turned out to protest a proposed citywide ban on public nakedness.
They held signs depicting classical paintings of naked subjects, along with disparaging remarks about Supervisor Scott Wiener, who recently proposed the ban after he said he had received too many complaints from residents in his Castro district.
On one sign, a picture of Wiener’s face was crossed out next to the phrase, “The only wiener that doesn’t belong in San Francisco.” The supervisor said he became frustrated by reports that some of the male nudists who regularly sun in his district’s public plazas were wearing jewelry designed to draw attention to their genitals and maintain erections.
No state law bans public nudity — only “lewd behavior,” such as walking around with an erection — so cities and counties are charged with determining what else is appropriate. Berkeley and San Jose have public nudity bans on the books, but while San Francisco began regulating nudism last year by requiring naked people to put a towel between themselves and public seating, walking around in the buff is still legal.
As of about 1 p.m. Tuesday, about 16 mostly male nudists drew colorful comments from passers-by as they stated their case that the nudity ban represents an erosion of civil rights. George Davis, a 66-year-old writer and former mayoral candidate, went so far as to call the proposal “fascist.” Davis added that being publicly naked is the one right that all people have, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity.
“Everybody can be nude,” he said.
If approved by a majority of supervisors and signed by Mayor Ed Lee, the law will impose fines of $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second offense. A third offense within a year would allow for either a misdemeanor or an additional infraction ticket of $500. The ban would not apply to popular events such as Zazzle Bay to Breakers and the Folsom Street Fair.
The proposed legislation is set for its first Board of Supervisors hearing next month.