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State to appeal beach nudity ruling

Parks officials say their crackdown on baring it all at San Onofre State Beach didn't require a public hearing.

September 04, 2008|Susannah Rosenblatt | Times Staff Writer

The battle to bare it all rages on -- state parks officials filed a notice of appeal Wednesday to overturn an Orange County judge's recent ruling allowing visitors to Trail 6 at San Onofre State Beach to swim and sunbathe in the buff, a department spokesman said.

Responding to complaints of lewd behavior, parks officials earlier this year warned of a crackdown at the longtime nudist spot just south of the San Diego County line near Camp Pendleton.

The clothing-optional crowd took the California Department of Parks and Recreation to court, arguing that any change in policy toward naked beachgoers required a public hearing. Orange County Superior Court Judge Sheila Fell agreed with the naturists, and the frolicking au naturel continued.

Parks officials "respectfully disagree with the judge's ruling," spokesman Roy Stearns said Wednesday.

According to Stearns, the decades-old memo stipulating that nudity should not be subject to enforcement unless a member of the public complains "is not a regulation," as Judge Fell had determined. Regulations, Fell ruled, are subject to public hearings when altered.

The policy "was never adopted as a regulation, but rather was an internal guidance for our peace officers, and we shall now take that argument to the appeals court," Stearns said.

The notice of appeal "illustrates the lengths to which the parks department will go in order to avoid the inconvenience of having to listen to the public that they're supposed to be serving," said R. Allen Baylis, the Huntington Beach attorney and naturist activist named in the original lawsuit -- and a regular fixture at Trail 6.

"They're going to have to really do some fantastic legal work in order to get this ruling overturned."

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susannah.rosenblatt@latimes.com

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