San Francisco Votes 6-5 for Public Nudity Ban
SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - City Hall quickly ejected disrobing activists Tuesday as officials passed a near-ban on public nudity in San Francisco, the city of free love.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the 6-5 vote prohibits genital exposure on all city sidewalks, plazas, parklets, streets and public transit. Mayor Ed Lee must still sign the ordinance, which also must survive a second reading and a federal lawsuit.
Castro District Supervisor Scott Wiener, who sponsored the ordinance, has said that his area's growing naked problem generates more complaints from his constituents than homelessness or Muni, San Francisco's public transit system.
"It's no longer a quirky part of San Francisco, it's seven days a week," Wiener told the Chronicle. "Many people in the neighborhoods are over it and want to take action."
While some supervisors expressed concern about limiting personal freedom, Wiener said their arguments amounted to a slippery slope.
"I don't agree that having yellow hair is the same as exposing your penis at a busy street corner for hours and hours," Wiener said at the meeting.
The ban on public nudity does not apply to private events or property, or popular clothing-optional events like the city's Pride parade, the Bay to Breakers run or the Folsom Street Fair, which has earned the nickname Leather Fest.
While children under the age of 5 can frolic in the buff on San Francisco streets, adults face fines ranging from $100 for the first offense to a misdemeanor and a year in jail for a third strike.
But nude aficionados like Mitch Hightower, Oxane "Gypsy" Taub, George Davis and Russell Mills - who sued the city-county in federal court last week to stop the ordinance - say the nudity ban effectively chills political free speech.
Tuesday's vote did not fully throw a blanket over the affair.
Because both sides agreed in the preceding days to delay implementation of the ban to Feb. 1, 2013, U.S. District Judge Edward Chen can still conduct a preliminary injunction hearing.
Chen signed the stipulation order shortly after the Board of Supervisors voted, and scheduled the hearing for Jan. 17.
The ordinance must also face a second reading to officially pass.
Christina DiEdoardo, a lawyer for the nudists, told the Chronicle that the close vote gave her hope that some supervisors might change their minds before the second reading.
"We only need one person to change their mind," DiEdoardo was quoted as saying. "It's a completely unjustified restraint on free speech."