There's no law against public nudity in San Francisco, but there could soon be one. More specifically, a new ordinance introduced Tuesday by Castro district supervisor Scott Wiener would regulate nudity, requiring restaurant diners to wear clothes and outdoor nudists to cover up public seating before they sit down on the city's benches and park lawns.
"If you're going to be naked in public, and you're going to sit down on public seating, you should cover the seating up," Wiener told the Los Angeles Times. "We shouldn't have to legislate about that, but we do.… It's about basic public health."
According to the Times, placing a towel or some other piece of cloth down "between flesh and public seating" is already "normal etiquette" for nudists and naturalists, who can often be found in the Castro district.
Meanwhile, self-proclaimed "urban nudist" George Davis, who ran for mayor while naked in 2007 and 2010, says the proposed law is unnecessary. "Basically, if someone has a cold, it's a greater health threat than the situation of sharing a seat," he told the Times.
Wiener's nudity restriction proposal came about following a rise in complaints from parents and others concerned about the increasing amount of nudity on the city's streets and seats.
Wiener told WCBS-TV Tuesday that his office has not received any complaints about his proposed legislation, but some people told the press that the idea doesn't go far enough. Cliff's Variety Store owner Martha Asten, whose store is on Castro Street, told the San Francisco Examiner she is tired of seeing so much nudity on display around her, and public nudity should be banned. "Why not?" she told the paper. "We legislate everything else. They want to legislate things like circumcision, and what we can put in our bodies. Why shouldn't they legislate what we have on our bodies?"
One of the people who first complained to Wiener's office was attorney Jonathan Storper, who told the Times he had spoken to the police and the city health department after seeing San Francisco's so-called Naked Guys sitting on Jane Warner Plaza's public seating. "They said it's not their jurisdiction," Storper told the paper.
The San Francisco Chronicle took Wiener's side in an unsigned editorial today: "Here's an idea, San Franciscans: Keep your pants on — at least in public. Most people don't want to see that much of you. And even in a city known for tolerance of unusual behavior, inflicting nudity on an unsuspecting public can scare youngsters and offend adults."