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SF may finally follow Manteca’s lead on social issue

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POSTED October 3, 2012 11:14 p.m.

You do not have to worry about naked people over the age of 10 gathering at Library Park without police taking action.

It’s illegal.

Nor can they go about naked at any other public venue or even private property in Manteca that can be seen from public property or right-of-way.

The Manteca City Council back in 2004 adopted an anti-public nudity ordinance after a resident near the Boys & Girls Club started working on her tan in the buff within clear view of the street and the nearby playground populated with kids.

The council decision created a firestorm of protest but not from anyone in Manteca. More than a few nudists - or at least advocates of the right for individuals to do what they please where ever they please as long as it isn’t “harming” someone else - slammed Manteca for being a backwater town populated with prudes.

One can’t help but wonder what they’d say about San Francisco these days.

A few leaders in the birthplace of the Free Love Movement apparently believe wearing nothing is not good enough any longer.

Supervisor Scott Wiener has proposed outlawing public nudity much like Manteca has in public places except for street festivals, parades and events like the Bay to Breakers foot race. Manteca’s ordinance also allows for exceptions on public lands - providing the nudity occurs inside a theater, concert hall, or similar facility that is enclosed and not open to public view from a public right-of-way - as long as the nudity is part of a theatrical performance. And, no, City Council meetings do not qualify as live theater although sometimes they can be quite entertaining.

What has got a number of Wiener’s constituents upset is the daily de facto nudist colony that populates a plaza near Market and Castro streets. They have become big tourist attractions - primarily with foreign visitors - who like having their pictures taken with them. Hey, you spend a ton of money traveling to California for vacation so you’ve got to get your wacko pictures to show the folks back home.

Oops, did I call grown men who plop themselves down on bench in a public plaza while wearing nothing more than sandals and a pair of sunglasses while sipping Starbucks coffee wacko?

Perhaps they earned such a designation when they fought Wiener’s previous initiative regarding public nudity that was adopted as law.

Wiener’s law was requiring that folks who walked around San Francisco naked should at least be required to place a towel or some similar item under their behind before they sit on public benches or on bus seats. People were a little more than grossed about having to use the same seats with obvious concerns about potential health risks.

And how did the nudists respond? They claimed it was an attack on their rights and that people were just being prudes. Gee, I wonder what they’d think about those who use public property and such as an impromptu toilet?

Wiener’s latest proposal is getting a lot of support even among those who by their own admission have no stomach for prudish rules.

Generally, they believe anything goes isn’t good in a civilized society and that there is a place and time for everything. And being naked walking down the street isn’t what is acceptable in the real world.

If you doubt that just hop on over to the People’s Republic of Berkeley who back in 1999 won a court decision that their law requiring people to wear clothes in public was constitutional. That followed adoption of an ordinance in 1993 aimed at combating the infamous “Naked Guy” - Andrew Martinez - who attended Cal Berkeley classes only in sandals carrying a backpack and even showed up at a City Council meeting nude.

Think about it. Berkeley had a law on the books against public nudity seven years before Manteca did.

And they called Manteca a backwater town with leaders who were prudes.



This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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