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San Francisco Supervisors Approve Nudity Ban Expansion, ‘Tiny Apartments’ Legislation

| November 20, 2012
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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 6-5 on Tuesday to expand the city’s ban on nudity and 10-1 to pass an ordinance allowing “micro-unit” apartments.

A nudist walks on Market Street in San Francisco. (Kimihiro Hoshino/AFP/Getty Images)

The legislation expanding the nudity ban could force people to keep their clothes on most of the time in public. San Francisco had banned nudity in parks, on port property and in restaurants. Under the legislation approved Tuesday, that list could grow to include city plazas, parklets, sidewalks, streets and public transit.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that “the ban still requires a second vote by the board and approval by the mayor, but if all happens as expected, the ban could go into effect Feb. 1.” The legislation was proposed by Supervisor Scott Wiener, who said he has heard several complaints about public nudity in the Castro.

“Many people in this neighborhood are over it and believe it’s time to take action,” he said. Wiener emphasized that “the Castro and San Francisco are places of freedom of expression and acceptance.”

“(But) It doesn’t mean that we have no standards whatsoever,” he said.

The vote led some opponents of the ban to strip down in City Hall, according to Tweets from reporters covering the meeting. Law enforcement officers covered some of the nudists with blankets as the supervisors recessed the meeting.

Supervisor Eric Mar was among those who voted against expanding the ban. He said he felt the legislation was a waste of the supervisors’ time.

“This may be an issue about one neighborhood and one plaza,” Mar said.

Supervisors Jane Kim, John Avalos, Christina Olague and David Campos joined Mar in opposing the ban. You can hear full audio of the debate over the legislation below.

During Tuesday’s meeting the supervisors also approved a building code change that could allow apartments the size of living rooms in San Francisco. At 220 square feet – including kitchen, bathroom, closet and a 150-square-foot living room – the new “micro-units” could be among the smallest apartments in the country. You can see artist’s renderings and floor plans here; KQED’s Forum hosted a discussion about the proposal on Monday which you can listen to here.

Avalos was the lone supervisor to vote against the measure.

KQED News reported live on the supervisors’ meeting. Some of the updates we posted are below.

UPDATE 4:13 p.m.: Some of Supervisor Scott Wiener’s comments in response to supervisors who said they were voting against expanding the nudity ban:

“We are a city of free expression.”

“I don’t agree that having yellow hair is the same as exposing your penis at a busy street corner for hours and hours.”

“Free expression in the abstract is really nice… until it comes to your neighborhood.”

“I wonder what would happen if naked guys started hanging out in the Richmond.. or in Balboa Park.”

“I guarantee people would not have waited as long as we waited in the Castro.”

UPDATE 4:07 p.m.: Here are some comments from supervisors who voted against expanding the ban.

Supervisor Christina Olague: “When we start surrendering these rights, what’s next?” Responding to Supervisor Scott Wiener’s comment that he has heard several complaints about public nudity, Olague said she gets more emails about the city’s homeless problem than any other issue. But “I would be the last person to legislate any homeless people from any neighborhood or any part of the city.”

Supervisor John Avalos said reports of nudity in the city were of “inconsequential nudity” and “meaningless.”

Supervisor Eric Mar: “This may be an issue about one neighborhood and one plaza.” He said legislation expanding the ban was a waste of supervisors’ time.

UPDATE 3:58 p.m.:

UPDATE 3:23 p.m.: Supervisor Scott Wiener’s comments on his proposed legislation changing the city’s nudity ban:

“Over the past two years the situation on our streets and particular in the Castro has changed. It’s no longer random and sporadic.”

“In the Castro, it’s seven days a week.”

“It’s very much a ‘hey look what I have’ mentality.”

“Many people in this neighborhood are over it and believe it’s time to take action.”

“The Castro and San Francisco is a place of freedom of expression and acceptance.”

“It doesn’t mean that we have no standards whatsoever.”

“I say this as a gay man who was drawn to the Castro in the 1990s.”

“The Castro is a neighborhood for everyone, gay and straight.”

“The dominant demographic expressing concern… has been gay men. I’ve heard from far more gay men expressing support for this legislation than straight.”

UPDATE 2:43 p.m.: The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted 10-1 to reduce the city’s minimum apartment size. Supervisor John Avalos cast the lone no vote, stating that he “can’t stomach supporting this idea.”

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  • Stone

    Hmmm. I really cannot think of a real good reason to “hang” around in public unprotected like that. Sure, it feels good to catch some rays as nature intended, but for being out and about… seems dangerous to me. The urban jungle has many snares… what happens if some one gets hung up in between the cracks of the wooden park bench for instance? In such an unfortunate event, would one then ask for the help of passer by, or a policeman? Could be awkward. What about unsuspecting tourists? Hell, I might mistake such a thing for a weapon if I happen to bump into one of these folks… that would be bad, might end up cutting someone off if I had to reach for my arms.

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I would choose to wear a loin cloth at minimum, both for safety and aesthetics.

  • srichey321

    SF is a cool city thanks to the weirdness and counterculture. Still, it would be nice if the nude people were at least attractive.

  • Put on your clothes

    I personally would not want to see small children lose their innocence that fast.

  • bear on the peaks

    from this castro resident, thank you scott weiner! i have had enough of naked guys in wigs and sunglasses waving their oiled-up genitals at traffic telling me i must be some kind of prude for not respecting them in their natural state! out with avalos and kim and campos. i’ve jumped the fence and joined all the people upset with them over the mirkarimi incident. get these three supervisors out now!