If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear… something
City that was home to the Summer of Love reins in its hippie tradition by banning public nudity
You'll soon need more than just a flower in your hair to walk the streets of San Francisco: for the first time in decades, visitors face the prospect of being arrested if they stroll around in public in a state of undress.
Lawmakers will vote today on an ordinance that would officially prohibit nudity in most of San Francisco's public places, abolishing a free and easy cultural tradition that stretches back to the 1967 Summer of Love. The proposed ban is the brainchild of Scott Wiener, a city supervisor [lawmaker] who represents its gay-friendly Castro District. He says a recent explosion in the number of nudists is upsetting even his famously tolerant constituents.
"In its traditional form in San Francisco, public nudity was fine," Mr Wiener told The Los Angeles Times. "It was fine to have a random [naked] person walking through the neighbourhood once in a while. It was fine at public festivals and parades.
"But I don't think having some guys taking their clothes off and hanging out seven days a week at Castro and Market Street is really what San Francisco is about. I think it's a caricature of what San Francisco is about."
Mr Wiener's ordinance is aimed at curtailing the activities of the "naked guys", a group of several dozen suntanned men who began gathering in Jane Warner Plaza, on one of Castro's busiest intersections, two years ago.
Many of the "naked guys" display elaborate adult body piercings and passers-by have accused them of behaving in an overtly sexual manner. Local businesses complain that they are scaring off customers.
A year ago, Mr Wiener passed an "anti-skidmark law" that prohibited nudists from restaurants and forced them to place a cloth between their buttocks and any public seating. It has done little to stem the complaints.
His new law would make it illegal for a person over the age of five to "expose his or her genitals, perineum or anal region on any public street, sidewalk, street median, parklet or plaza" or while using public transit. A first-time offender would be fined $100 (£63).
San Francisco at present has no rules prohibiting public nudity. Traditionally, the matter is covered by California's indecent-exposure laws, which prohibit only "lewd" behaviour.
Although Mr Wiener's ordinance exempts participants in San Francisco's many gay-friendly parades and other cultural events, it has sparked fierce opposition. Last week, two dozen protesters removed their clothes and marched around City Hall.
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