Nudity Ban: City Business Carries On, Now Clothed

Last week, the eyes of the nation were drawn to San Francisco to observe something the nation's eyes would probably rather not observe: San Francisco's indignant nudist activists.

Supervisor Scott Wiener's ordinance banning most public nudity — which passed on preliminary reading, 6-5 — drew throngs of observers to City Hall, and generated scads of media coverage from around the globe. Much of it was, of course, hilarious: A Fox News headline read “Nudists Running Wild in San Francisco.”

With all eyes on genitalia, there was little attention paid to the city's legislative blood and guts. Both the supervisors and the crowd at hand spent little time or effort delving into matters at last week's meeting that carry potentially graver social and fiscal consequences than the specter of nudists pervading our fair city. For example, the supes, without discussion or question, unanimously approved nearly $1.5 million in city lawsuit settlements.

Among them: $250,000 paid to former park ranger Mike Horan, who claimed the city's Park Patrol has been transformed into a lucrative overtime-generating machine, with plum assignments doled out in a racially discriminatory manner. The settlement tally also includes $164,099 to be paid to San Francisco by a former city-contracted escrow agent called Rehab Financial. Getting paid is nice, but the rub here is that Rehab is accused of absconding with more than $1 million in city money intended to aid low-income homeowners.

The supes, unanimously and without discussion, approved a Department of Public Health property lease for $32,363 a month, a worker's compensation deal worth $26.3 million, and a contract with the SFO Shuttle Bus Company worth up to $105 million.

In addition to the nudity ban, a proposal to make Muni free for low-income kids also passed; the supes are now insisting that San Francisco's youths wear clothes, but needn't carry bus fare.

While much attention was paid to the existence of a nudity ban, far less was expended exploring its actual wording. So it may come as a surprise to learn the ordinance's agenda packet is 158 pages long — enough paper to craft outfits to clothe the protesting nudists.

Finally, here's the ban, stripped to its essence: “A person may not expose his or her genitals, perineum, or anal region on any public street, sidewalk, street median, parklet, or plaza, or in any transit vehicle station, platform, or stop of any government operated transit system in the City and County of San Francisco.”

This may well represent the first use of the word “perineum” in city codes — or, for that matter, on these pages. Perineum. There — did it again.

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