American Association for Nude Recreation
Position on Proposed Huntington Beach
Anti-Nudity Ordinance

(Having been submitted to the City Council of Huntington Beach, the position statements of both AANR and the Naturist Action Committee are a matter of public record.)

July 31, 2000

The Honorable Mayor Dave Garofalo and
Huntington Beach Board of Commissioners

         Via Facsimile

Re: The American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR)'s and Western Sunbathing Association (WSA)'s opposition to, or request for amendments to Huntington Beach's proposed nudity ordinance

Dear Honorable Mayor and Commission Members:

On behalf of thousands of California residents, the twenty-nine (29) AANR/WSA clubs throughout the state to which those residents belong, and our members in Huntington Beach, we are writing to request that the city refrain from altering the status quo by enacting an unnecessary anti-nudity ordinance.

As you are aware, this measure is scheduled for consideration by the Council on Monday, August 7, 2000.  Our associations are concerned about this proposal and trust that you will vote against it or, at the very least, amend it to exempt family nudism for the following reasons:

    ¨ "Dress code" ordinances have a tendency to cast a broader net than originally intended, often with the unforeseen consequence of punishing those who enjoy an innocent skinny-dip in remote areas;

    ¨ There are already laws on the books regulating indecent exposure, adult entertainment and public drunkenness.  Enforcing alcohol laws is a more practical alternative than enacting a new ordinance.  A new law would be time-consuming and costly to enforce, detract local law enforcement from more important matters, and possibly prompt expensive lawsuits from those whose constitutional rights are---however inadvertently---infringed;

    ¨ An ordinance regulating bathing attire could have an unforeseen negative impact on tourism;

    ¨ If an ordinance is passed in Huntington Beach, wholesome, family-orientated nude recreation should be exempted from the ordinance because family nudism makes a positive impact in communities.

Some more information on our associations.

With roots dating to 1931, AANR has grown to an organization of more than 50,000 members and their families throughout North America, including people from all walks of life, in all ages, shapes, and sizes.  The AANR and WSA are not for profit organizations.

The WSA is a regional affiliate of AANR, incorporated in the state of California, with responsibility for coordinating clothes-free social clubs, activities, and government affairs relations in seven states.

What our associations believe and do.

AANR and WSA are family-orientated organizations with high standards, including the following principles, which you'll find repeated on every membership card:

    We recognize the essential wholesomeness of the human body and that life is enhanced by the naturalness of social nudity.  From exercise to relaxation, physical health and mental well being are enriched through social nude recreation.  We have the right to practice social nudity in appropriate settings, provided we do not infringe on the right of others.

A Roper poll confirms that those beliefs are in accord with mainstream America.  The poll showed that 40 million Americans have skinny-dipped in mixed company.  Moreover, the August 2000 issue of Ladies Home Journal cites a recent poll conducted by the magazine about topfree beaches for women, 36% of the respondents said they would visit a topless reach [sic] and 18% said they already had.  (see enclosure)

Why our associations are concerned with Huntington Beach's anti-nudity proposal…

As the above-mentioned principles make clear, AANR and its regions advocate social nudity only in appropriate settings when it will not infringe on the rights of others.  As an issue of Governing magazine explained, we have never advocated "walking nude down Main Street," and the Association's Government Affairs program seeks only to "maintain the status quo."

AANR and WSA's chief concern with the Huntington Beach proposal is that it represents a significant change in the status quo.  By opening up the subject of dress codes on beach attire, there is a very real danger that the legal "net" will be cast broad, with unforeseen and unintended consequences.  Regrettably, it may threaten one of the most traditional, wholesome, and good-natured fun facets of Americana: skinny-dipping at "the ole swimming hole."

It is our understanding that some proponents of this measure believe enacting it is necessary to maintain what makes Huntington Beach so wholesome and inviting to visitors.  But skinny-dipping is inseparably one of those aspects.  Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer skinny-dipped.  So did the lads depicted by Norman Rockwell on countless Saturday Evening Post covers.  We see no reason to jeopardize this tradition by enacting an untested "dress code" law rife with legal uncertainty.

How enforcing existing statutes presents a preferable solution…

There are already several laws available to this city for regulating disorderly conduct associated with alcohol consumption and lewd behavior.  Because AANR and WSA are family-orientated associations with no connection to adult entertainment and no interest in activities that affront or alarm, we have not taken issue with the application of such laws.  Moreover, those laws have stood the test of time.  (For example, your alcohol abuse ordinances have dramatically reduced incidents over July 4 weekend festivities.)

On the other hand, a number of communities have recently come to realize something too late.  Taking direct aim at nudity and dress, rather than indecent activity and alcohol abuse, causing identifiable adverse secondary effects, results in passage of laws which, perhaps inadvertently, trample on First Amendment rights.  In many cases, such laws are ultimately overturned as being too vague or overbroad following lengthy and expensive legal battles.

    • Last summer, at the end of a long line of appeals, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down a local community's public nudity ordinance ruling that it was broad enough to ban activities protected by the First Amendment 1;
       
    • An ordinance aimed at regulating swimwear worn by hot dog vendors in Miami, Florida was struck down as too vague2;
       
    • Two months ago The Spokesman Review of Spokane, Washington reported that a Moscow, Idaho judge found a local ordinance's prohibition on "willfully exposing his or her person or the private parts thereof" as too vague to bring three women to trial3;
       

Whether or not Huntington Beach's anti-nudity proposal would ultimately withstand constitutional challenge, the cost associated with litigating that issue could be substantial.  In any event, enforcement may prove costly—as much as $1,900.00 in salaries per weekend in extreme cases.

 _______________________
 
1. "State justices throw out ban on nude dancing," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6/19/98.
 
2. Palm Beach County v. Gloria Gonzalez
 
3. "Judge says law doesn't cover breasts," The Spokesman Review, 11/30/98, Idaho Section

 

Why Huntington Beach Should Further Research and Revise the Wording of this Ordinance…

The previously mentioned cases make clear that the greatest danger associated with anti-nudity ordinances is that they are often enacted without taking enough time to conduct sufficient underlying research and fact-finding to support them.  In turn, this makes such laws highly vulnerable to legal attack.

AANR and WSA have had the opportunity to assist various communities and states with creating laws that meet their needs.  In cases where there is truly a problem that should be addressed, it is certainly possible to do so while exempting innocuous cases of nudity (e.g. in places set apart for such nudity) that do not cause adverse secondary effects.  That is important, because nudity laws must be narrowly tailored to addressing such adverse effects.  Most recently the state of West Virginia enacted a law exempting AANR chartered clubs by name.

Family-Orientated Nude Recreation Should Be Exempted From this Ordinance…

Enclosed in the packets that you will be provided to you at the hearing you'll find information from various government officials attesting to the positive economic impact that our wholesome clubs and resorts make in their communities.  Because family-orientated nudism (also commonly referred to as naturism) does not give rise to adverse secondary effects, it should be exempted from Huntington Beach's nudity laws.  We have attached some proposed changes to the current drafts of the ordinance that would accomplish this purpose.  Another option is to enact a zoning ordinance that sharply restricts adult business.  AANR would be happy to furnish the Council with copies of zoning laws that restrict such businesses, but protect innocent family naturism.

Unforeseen Effects on Tourism…

Finally, there is amply evidence that international travelers, particularly those from Europe, are accustomed to more relaxed bathing codes.  What will happen when tourists from those countries who are visiting Huntington Beach receive criminal citations and fines, rather than a friendly reminder about local customs?

For these reasons, the AANR and WSA respectfully request that you take steps to prevent the proposed anti-nudity ordinance from passing or, in the alternative, amend the proposal to exempt wholesome family-orientated naturism per the suggested language enclosed.

Thank you for considering these concerns.  I invite you to contact me if you have any questions about our Associations' position or if we may be of additional assistance to you.

Sincerely,

 

Erich E. Schuttauf, J.D.
Executive Director
American Association for Nude Recreation

Enclosures (3)

 

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