Parks’ Nudist Policy|Needs Another Look

(CN) – A 30-year tolerance of nude sunbathing at a California beach cannot continue because the memo that allowed it was not presented for public comment, a California appeals court ruled.

     The Naturist Action Committee sought writ of mandamus to hold up an internal park memo as a regulation that cannot be overturned without satisfying the requirements of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).
     While nude sunbathing is prohibited in California state parks, the memo, written in 1979 by then-director Russell Cahill, called it a “victimless crime” and decided that it should be enforced only when a private citizen complains.
     After three decades of nudity at San Onofre State Beach in Northern San Diego County, director Ruth Coleman rescinded the policy, citing the beach’s increase in popularity and the uncomfortable, sexually charged atmosphere that had to be tolerated by the beach’s maintenance and safety workers.
     Coleman rescinded the Cahill policy as of Labor Day 2008. The trial court agreed with the naturists that the policy could not be rescinded without compliance with the APA.
     Justice Rylaarsdam of the Santa Ana-based appeals court disagreed, saying the regulation was not valid in the first place.
     “There is no evidence the department sent notice of the regulation to the public, provided an opportunity for public comment, or filed all underlying materials with the Office of Administrative Law, thus preventing its review of the regulation for fairness, clarity, and necessity,” Rylaarsdam wrote.

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