It's official, guys: San Francisco has banned public nudity. No more hanging out pantsless at bus stops in the Castro. No more nude sunbathing on Fisherman's Wharf. No more naked mud wrestling in Golden Gate Park. To put it rather bluntly, no more fun.
In a 6-5 vote, the city's Board of Supervisors approved a proposal that makes it illegal to expose your genitals in public places, including but not limited to sidewalks, parks, streets and those weird buses that skate around the city on Earth-saving electric cables. Infractions will cost you $100 the first two times and $500 the third time. Supervisor Scott Wiener, who introduced the proposal, predictably sounded like a buzzkill after the vote. "The Castro and San Francisco in general, is a place of freedom, expression and acceptance. But freedom, expression and acceptance does not mean anything goes under any circumstances," he said on Tuesday. "Our public spaces are for everyone and as a result it's appropriate to have some minimal standards of behavior."
Minimal standards of behavior? What's next, forcing everyone to wear gingham plaid and khaki pants while they drink drip coffee and talk about monetary policy? This is not Washington DC, Mr. Wiener, and you are no Emily Post. Proponents of public nudity say that the new ban will destroy everything that makes San Francisco the nation's capital of free spirits. They also maintain that public nudity doesn't hurt anyone, and banning it only serves to clamp down on San Franciscans' freedom of expression. As Supervisor Christina Olague has argued, Wiener's proposal seems to be "a solution in search of a problem."
All the fun hyperbole aside, it's worth considering the idea that the people San Francisco simply don't care that much if they can walk around naked. The San Francisco Weekly, at least, thinks that the pro-nudity contingent didn't even put up a fight. "Much to our disappointment, there have been no rallies, no naked sit-ins or protests, and strangely enough, no nudity around City Hall," wrote the alt weekly's Eri Sherbert on Tuesday, the day of the vote. For what it's worth, we have seen some pictures of naked people getting involved in the conversation at City Hall. One protestor named Gypsy actually stripped in the middle of the Board of Supervisors meeting. (See above.)
The fact of the matter is that you'll still be able to run around San Francisco naked on certain days of the year. Wiener's proposal includes an exception to the ban during festivals and on certain beaches. And obviously, the new ban is only as strict as the SFPD wants it to be. Even the city's leaders say they're not ready to give in to the man and put on stupid clothes. "I'm concerned about civil liberties, about free speech, about changing San Francisco's style and how we are as a city," said Supervisor John Avalos. "I cannot and will not bite this apple and I refuse to put on this fig leaf."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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