Our Beach Proposal

Proposal for Bates Beach (North Rincon)

We believe that all beach users should have access to California’s beaches and, where practical, certain sections be set aside for clothing-optional use.

Why designate a small section of beach for clothing-optional use? Local governments routinely set aside land for special use such as dog parks, tennis courts, municipal golf courses, bridle trails, off-road vehicle areas, etc. Those who believe in clothing-optional recreation believe that they have the same right and are entitled to the same consideration. This is particularly true when access to the beach and the ocean is a resource that cannot be practically obtained except by government cooperation.

A Zogby poll found that 80% of Santa Barbara residents agreed with us, and that number rose to 98% when the designated beach has proper signage to alert others that it is nearby. Another poll taken in Carpinteria in 2019 showed 76% agreed and only 5% disagreed.

We feel nude or clothing-optional recreation is a valid recreation that helps the county better serve the diverse recreational interests of the public.

We appreciate the concerns of some people who wish to separate themselves and their families from such a beach area and to raise their children in a way they see fit. We ask for the same courtesy. Therefore, to avoid user conflict we ask that proper signage be placed so that people will know where we are, and they can make a choice to use that part of the beach or not.

Our Proposal

We wish to bring the 1977: Santa Barbara County Ordinance up to date so it conforms with several important court cases that have occurred since. Our proposed changes are shown below in bold italics:

Sec. 24-15. Nudity --Offenses numerated; penalties.

  1. a. It is hereby declared a public nuisance and unlawful for any person to appear on any beach, park, street, or in any other public place or place open to the public or exposed to public view, including specifically a view from any private residence or any portion of the real property in the immediate vicinity of such private residence, whether such place is publicly or privately owned, unclothed or in such a state of undress as to expose, in the case of a female, any portion of her breasts below the areolas thereof or in the case of any male or female, any part of his or her pubic or anal region or genitalia, except as follows:
  2. The provisions of section shall not apply to locations specifically set aside for this purpose, norto any acts which take place wholly within a fully enclosed building or any portion thereof; and nothing contained herein shall be construed to prohibit any act or acts which are expressly authorized or prohibited by the Penal Code of the state.
  3. The county specifically sets aside for this purpose the northern end of North Rincon (Bates) County Beach, starting at GPS N 34° 22’47.6688″ W 119° 29’01.7088″ and ending at GPS N 34° 22’50.1312″

W 119° 29’05.8272″.

  1. The County Parks Commission may designate other physical locations for clothing-optional use.
e. Violations of this section shall be an infraction punishable by a fine in the sum of fifty dollars for a first violation; a fine in the sum of one hundred dollars for a second violation of this section within one year after the first violation; and a fine in the sum of two hundred fifty dollars for each additional violation within one year after a second violation and within one year after any subsequent violation of this section thereafter. (Ord. No. 2507, § 1; Ord. No. 2564, § 1; Ord. No. 2931, § 1)

Why Designate the Santa Barbara County Parks Commission to Handle Future Needs?

Because culture constantly evolves, circumstances may require other adjustments to this ordinance. Therefore, we are also adding an amendment clause to the county ordinance that allows the County Parks Commission to grant other exceptions, as yet unknown, rather than forcing everyone back to the Board of Supervisors for other amendments in the future.

We are not locked into having the granting agency be CPC, but we offer it as a logical choice. Its members are appointed by the Board of Supervisors and it can regulate future demands as the times may dictate. They should also be allowed to issue permits for special events that occur now in other cities and counties across the country, should such ever be proposed in the County.

We are not asking for legal clothing-optional status at any of the other beaches that were traditionally that way over a decade ago.

FOBB has also spoken to countless county officials, tourist promoters, members of law enforcement, and small business leaders throughout the county. Not one said they opposed the return of the nudists to Bates Beach. However, none of them would support the idea publicly until - and unless - the County Board of Supervisors agreed to amend the 1977 ordinance so that the designated beach had legal standing.

How Nudity is Enforced Under the Law and Applicable Court Cases

First, there is no federal law against nudity. A letter from the LA Sheriff Department confirms it and instructs his deputies to enforce only lewd behavior.

The California Code Section 314-318.6 states Every person who willfully and lewdly exposes his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed is guilty of a felony.

In practice, federal, state, and local nudity laws are unevenly enforced, and often based on the degree of knowledge of individual deputies about state and local laws and how recent court cases that have amended the application of these laws. In a phrase, “Nude is not lewd.”

A more complete summary of Federal, State and Local Nudity Laws is here.

Financial Impact: None

No new facilities are built or removed. The only thing that may happen is there may be more people on the Rincon Trail above the beach, more bicycles in the racks, and more cars in the parking lot above the beach. These are positive results in line with county goals!

You Don’t Have To Be A Nudist Yourself To Support This Proposal!

All you have to do is believe that nudists have the right to their own space to enjoy their chosen lifestyle, just as we support the rights of others to their own beliefs and values, even if they differ from ours.