Monday, June 29, 2009

NAC Loss at San Onofre Makes Headline has the story.
The panel of justices ruled Thursday that a policy that allowed nudity at state beaches – the Cahill Policy – is an invalid policy because they said it didn't go through the proper procedures before it was adopted years ago.

Their decision overturned a lower court's decision in which an Orange County Superior Court judge ruled that the Cahill Policy is indeed a regulation and that state Department of Parks and Recreation violated procedure when they adopted a nudity ban without first seeking public feedback.

The appellate justices heard from two sides of an ensuing battle over Trail 6, which has traditionally been something of a safe haven for naturists.

Park officials said the agency followed the rules and did not violate any policy because they said they never set aside a designated area for nudity. They contend public
nudity is not allowed on state beaches.

Instead, state officials said, they chose to look the other way and allowed public nudity at the beach until they started getting complaints.
Still no definitive word on an appeal to the state's Supreme Court, but this looks like a huge loss for the Naturist Action Committee. Allen Baylis suggests that the "remoteness" condition mentioned in a letter to the American Association for Nude Recreation could be the basis for a new argument, but the point could be moot since it's been ruled now that the original Cahill Policy was merely a guideline and not a regulation. This would mean the the state could impose any guideline it chooses on any land considered for nude recreation, such as remoteness, or simply not allow nudity at all, which is officially not allowed on state beaches anyway, according the California Department of Parks and Recreation.

It seems to me that the NAC has to decide between continuing the fight over technicalities, or to take the case directly to the public and foment change at the grassroots level.

Politicians, officials and judges generally err on the side of caution. They are often not interested in doing the right thing, but take the politically expedient course that sits best with the general public. In the case of San Onofre, there is the perception that it's the nudity which is the catalyst for the bad behavior which has resulted in complaints, so in order to "solve" the problem the quickest and easiest solution is to ban nudity altogether. This is a mindset that's very hard to change, and legal actions sometimes only further serve to stir things up, and create more complications.

I wish that AANR had backed the NAC in their action, because even if the result was the same, at least nudists and naturists would have presented a united front. As it stands now, the NAC appears to be the troublemaker, while AANR, by taking the compromise route, now appears to the state of California to be the more reasonable organization. AANR wins the public relations battle here.

As I've said before, AANR will claim victory in the short run, but what they have done by appeasing the DPR is set back the free beach movement by years, if not decades. Naturists need to look beyond the spin that AANR is preparing to put on this development.

Even if AANR has a deal, with the state winning this court battle, there is not likely to be any clothing-optional areas in California state parks anytime soon, in my opinion. The DPR has found new power in this ruling and will likely exercise it against nudism and naturism.

Unless AANR and the NAC get on the same page on this issue, the chance for any success is deeply lessened. Dues paying members don't care about the political backbiting and finger-pointing, they just want results, and with this divide both organizations are merely serving their own interests and letting down nudist and naturists everywhere.

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