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SF Supervisor Proposes New Fines For Public Nudity, Mayor Approves

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Nudists may soon have to butt out of a popular plaza in San Francisco's Castro District under legislation proposed by a city supervisor Tuesday.

At Tuesday afternoon's board meeting, Supervisor Scott Wiener proposed to prohibit the display of genitals and buttocks in plazas and parklets in the city, as well as on sidewalks, streets and public transit.

Wiener said he had hesitated to introduce the legislation for a while, but felt it was necessary after an increasing amount of nudists created "an ad hoc nudist colony" at Jane Warner Plaza in the Castro.

He said, "Our neighborhood has had a general tolerance" for the nudists, but their numbers have gone "well beyond what is acceptable" and "public opinion in our neighborhood has shifted."

Wiener said in a statement that the legislation was spurred by "the over-the-top situation" in the plaza and other areas in the Castro District where nudists often congregate.

"It totally changes the vibe of that plaza and of the neighborhood," Wiener told KCBS.

Wiener said he wanted to wait and see if the situation would resolve itself without a new law, but said "many in the community have reached the end of their rope."

The legislation has the support of Cleve Jones, a longtime LGBT advocate and Castro resident, who said in a statement that "the middle of one of the busiest intersections in San Francisco is not the appropriate location for a nude beach."

"While most people in San Francisco, myself included, have no problem with occasional public nudity, we've seen a shift in public attitude," he said. "The current situation alienates both residents and visitors. We are a tolerant neighborhood and city, but there are limits."

The legislation would not apply to street fairs and parades like Folsom Street Fair and the Pride Parade, nor the city's beaches, which are under federal jurisdiction, Wiener said.

Violations would cost $100 for the first offense and $200 for the second, with rising penalties for each additional offense within a year. Violators would not be required to register as a sex offender.

Mayor Ed Lee, speaking at a separate event Tuesday, said he approved of Wiener's proposal.

"We'll hear some criticisms about it because we're a city that enjoys the freedom to do everything, but there should be a balance," Lee said.

This is the second piece of legislation Wiener has proposed to address public nudity in San Francisco.

Last year, the board approved legislation that banned nudity in restaurants and outlawed sitting on benches or other public seating without first placing clothing or other material atop the seat first.

State law only bans "lewd" behavior, which courts have interpreted to exclude simple nudity, according to Wiener's office. Other Bay Area cities, including Berkeley and San Jose, have already enacted similar public nudity bans, he said.

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