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When clothing isn't an option

Long Beach takes a step to clear the way for art students to draw nudes.

June 24, 2004|Louise Roug | Times Staff Writer

Nudity was at issue and the vote was unanimous: The Long Beach City Council decided Tuesday that it must reconsider its heretofore strict stance on the doffing of clothing -- but only in special circumstances.

"I don't think it was acceptable and fortunately the other City Council members agreed with me," said Councilman Dan Baker, who placed the item on the council's agenda.

The issue surfaced recently when Shelley RuggThorpe tried to get a permit to allow life drawing classes at the nonprofit art center Koo's.

As it stands, if such classes, which use nude models, also charge a fee, they are defined as "adult entertainment" by the municipal code and strictly forbidden without a permit. And a permit can't be obtained if the life drawing class is taught in close proximity to residential property.

Koo's, in downtown Long Beach, is in a building with apartments above the arts space.

As a result of Tuesday's vote, however, the city planning commission will draft a recommendation to make life drawing classes at private art centers exempt.

The council will vote on the amended matter, probably in a few months. Until then, teaching life drawing classes near residential property will be a zoning violation throughout the city.

In the meantime, RuggThorpe says she hopes some interim arrangement can be devised to allow the classes to proceed.

As for the council: "It was our job to try to convince them that this was not adult entertainment," she said, "and I think we did pretty good."

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