Baylis said his mission, whether at San Onofre in San Diego County or in Huntington Beach, is the same: to keep clothing-optional venues open to the public. According to Baylis, he’s far from alone in Huntington, and it rankles him that almost exactly a year ago, the City Council voted to ban public nudity even in a nonsexual context.
“A lot of people live in Huntington Beach who are naturists, nudists, whatever you want to call it,” he said. “The city has a long tradition of just being a little on the edge. Unfortunately, our City Council has gotten into this mode that for every perceived problem there must be a government solution.”
On July 16, 2007, the council voted to introduce an ordinance banning public nudity, after police Chief Kenneth Small said a self-described naturist was harassing residents. Before only indecent exposure — which must have a lewd component to it — was against the rules. That’s a misunderstanding of what naturists do, Baylis said. The movement is family-friendly, he said, and he sees San Onofre as a symptom of a similar misunderstanding: the belief that nudity and lewd conduct go hand in hand, and that nudity is offensive and draws complaints.
“Our response to that is that they should do what they’ve done in other places: designate the area as clothing-optional and put signage up,” he said. “If people are offended by the natural human form, they can go elsewhere.”
Closer to home, Baylis said the new Naturists in the OC group is gaining members and has had a couple of nude swim and volleyball events by renting out the Huntington Beach city gym and pool. But aside from the trip to San Onofre, he said there isn’t much fun in the sun for those who’d rather skip the clothes. It’s a civil liberties matter in an increasingly uptight society, he said.
“State parks pretty much banned alcohol consumption on any beach now,” he said. “It’s all becoming more restrictive, and at some point we have to stand up and say no.”
MICHAEL ALEXANDER may be reached at (714) 966-4618 or at email@example.com.