San Francisco's impending nude ban set to spark more public nudity

Mike Koozmin/The S.F. ExaminerGet used to this: A sheriff’s deputy hovers behind nude protester Gypsy Taub during a Board of Supervisors meeting last week. Supervisor Scott Wiener has criticized deputies’ handling of the nude-in at City Hall

Nudists made their displeasure known last week by stripping naked during a close Board of Supervisors vote to ban public nudity citywide. And with a few months to go before the new ordinance officially becomes law, the political corridors of San Francisco could be filled with naked rage through the holidays.

Christina DiEdoarado, an attorney representing nudists who intend to challenge the law in federal court, said nudists will be out in force Wednesday at a meeting of the Democratic County Central Committee, at a rally on the City Hall steps on Friday, and for the board’s required and usually perfunctory second vote on the ordinance Dec. 4.

If Mayor Ed Lee signs the law shortly after that vote, a federal judge would likely decide in January whether to issue a temporary injunction, which could delay the law’s Feb. 1 implementation date while nudists argue that the new regulations violate their First Amendment free expression rights.

Ban sponsor Supervisor Scott Wiener says while he has no personal problem with nudity, the frequent nakedness in his Castro district has gotten out of hand and generated too many complaints. He also said the behavior of nudists during last week’s vote was completely inappropriate and mishandled by Sheriff’s Department deputies charged with keeping order in the board chambers.

Although deputies were ready with light blue blankets to cover participants during the impromptu nude-in, Wiener complained that the melee delayed the board’s business and “got out of control.”

“I support their right to protest, they were making a point, and I got the point,” Wiener said. “The Sheriff’s Department did not adequately staff the board chambers.”

Although being naked violates the rules of conduct at City Hall, it is technically still legal in San Francisco, so the most deputies can do is ask the demonstrators to put their clothes back on or face eviction from the building.

Wiener added that deputies also failed to keep order during the contentious hearing that ended in the reinstatement of then-suspended Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi. Members of the public — some of whom said they were victims of domestic abuse — were booed by Mirkarimi supporters when they implored supervisors to remove the sheriff permanently.

The supervisor said that while the voices of nudists and Mirkarimi supporters were certainly the loudest ones heard at those respective hearings, they did not necessarily reflect the views of the public at large. Contacted for comment Monday, the Sheriff’s Department did not respond to the criticism as of press time.

Meanwhile, DiEdoarado said nudists plan to be as loud and present as ever, possibly with plenty more sudden nakedness, despite what Wiener thinks of it.

“It may happen; it’s up to my clients,” she said. “How does he expect them to respond? Write polite letters to the editor? To some extent, if you attack people, they fight back. This is a can of worms that the supervisor opened.”

dschreiber@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsBoard of SupervisorsGovernment & PoliticsLocalPoliticsRoss Mirkarimi

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