San Francisco Board of Supervisors to decide fate of nudity ban

AP File PhotoChilly reception: Nudity enthusiasts have practiced what they preach at City Hall in recent weeks to protest Supervisor Scott Wiener’s proposed ban.

The Board of Supervisors will bare it all today regarding how they feel about a proposed citywide ban on public nudity.

The legislation, introduced by Supervisor Scott Wiener last month, will be decided by the board after recent naked protests at City Hall and federal court action by nudists arguing that the proposed law would violate their First Amendment rights.

While the nudists originally wanted to file a temporary restraining order against The City before the law is enacted, their attorney recently agreed to seek an injunction if the law passes. In the event that a majority of supervisors approve the law, Mayor Ed Lee signs it and a federal judge decides it is constitutional, all public nudity in San Francisco would end, likely starting next year.

Opponents such as former mayoral candidate George Davis have gone so far as to call Wiener’s ban “fascist” and have compared it to tactics used in Nazi Germany. But Wiener says complaints have been rolling into his office about some of the regularly seen “naked guys” who sun in the Castro district’s Jane Warner Plaza because they have been wearing genital jewelry designed to maintain an erection. Wiener’s district includes the Castro.

While California law does not specifically address nudity, it forbids “lewd behavior,” which has been construed to include walking around in public with an erection.

Wiener successfully passed a law last year to require that publicly naked people put a cloth buffer between their bodies and any public seating, but nudists said it was simply codifying what was already etiquette.

The law would impose fines for nudity-related infractions — $100 for a first offense and $200 for a second offense within a year. While the Recreation and Park and Port of San Francisco codes require a mandatory misdemeanor criminal charge for a third offense within a year, Wiener’s law would allow for either a misdemeanor charge or an additional infraction ticket of $500.

Wiener has noted that San Jose and Berkeley already impose public-nudity bans. The law would allow nudity at permitted parades and big annual events such as Zazzle Bay to Breakers and the Folsom Street Fair.

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

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