NAC Update - CA: San Onofre State Beach
NATURIST ACTION COMMITTEE
Copyright 2009 by the Naturist Action Committee, which is responsible for its content. Permission is granted for the posting, forwarding or redistribution of this message, provided that it is reproduced in its entirety and without alteration.
DATE: June 21, 2009
SUBJECT: San Onofre Update
TO: All naturists and other concerned citizens
This is an update from the Naturist Action Committee on the status of San Onofre State Beach and NAC's ongoing effort to assure that it remains open for clothing-optional recreation.
The beach at Trail 6 of San Onofre remains clothing-optional, despite the effort begun by the California Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) more than a year ago to prohibit nudity at the popular and traditional clothing-optional site. Joined by Friends of San Onofre Beach, the local naturist group, NAC filed a lawsuit against DPR last July.
At issue was whether DPR had followed proper procedure in abrogating the Cahill Policy, a long-standing and well-known means for managing and regulating the clothing-optional use of portions of state parks. The policy was named for former DPR Director Russell Cahill, who issued it in 1979. The Cahill Policy has figured prominently in the successful appeal of a criminal conviction for nudity in a state park (People v. Bost, 1989). The policy was affirmed and interpreted by DPR's Deputy Director for Operations, Jack Harrison, in a 1988 letter. Together, the Cahill Policy and the Harrison letter form a state regulation dealing with clothing-optional recreation in California state parks.
In August of 2008, a California Superior Court ruled in favor of NAC, affirming that Cahill/Harrison is indeed a regulation, and further declaring: "Dept of Parks must comply with the provisions of the California Administrative Procedures Act before it makes any changes in its enforcement." Further, the Court said, "until the administrative process is completed, Parks shall maintain the status quo, and enforce the Cahill Policy as it has done since its issuance and subsequent interpretation by the Harrison letter, at Trail 6 in San Onofre State Beach."
The State has appealed the ruling. The Court of Appeals has not yet ruled. That ruling may come at any time.
Meanwhile, the American Association for Nude Recreation chose to contact and meet with the California Department of Parks & Recreation. However improvident such a meeting may have been, let it not be said that AANR fails to care about public lands or that it hadn't a right to the meeting.
A month prior to the actual meeting, AANR Government Affairs Chair Alonzo Stevens published (in the September issue of The Bulletin, AANR's house organ) the "facts" concerning the numbers of criminal arrests at San Onofre. Those numbers led Stevens to conclude in print that there certainly seemed to be a problem with criminal behavior at San Onofre. The truth is that Stevens simply used the numbers supplied to him by DPR, and those numbers were fabrications.
DPR was happy for the distribution, and no one at AANR had bothered to check the veracity of the figures. NAC had obtained the actual numbers through multiple and persistent Public Records Acts requests. The real numbers are far different from those supplied by the DPR and passed along by AANR, and they confirm neither DPR's fiction nor Stevens' agreement to it.
AANR's October meeting with DPR would hardly be worthy of comment, except for two factors associated with it.
1) AANR solicited and subsequently received a letter from Tony Perez, Acting Deputy Director for Park Operations. That letter, now widely circulated by AANR, allowed Perez to declare that the Cahill/Harrison regulation applies only in "remote" areas. The truth of the matter is that neither the Cahill Policy nor the interpretation of it in the Harrison letter ever mentioned anything about remoteness. In fact, the detailed DPR study that led to the Cahill Policy recommended that designated clothing-optional beaches be located near population centers to accommodate the obvious demand.
The notion that a clothing-optional site must be "remote" to be considered under Cahill/Harrison is another fabrication by DPR, contrived only relatively recently to justify DPR's ill-conceived attempt to close San Onofre State Beach to nude use. Despite the court order to "maintain the status quo," DPR has attempted to interject a new condition. DPR's argument is faulty, it's dangerous, and it simply deals in bad faith with the ruling of the California Superior Court that decided the case. AANR's eager acceptance of that deceitful posture shows little understanding of what's at stake.
2) The second factor that causes AANR's October meeting to become worthy of mention is AANR's own trumpeting of its meeting with DPR's Tony Perez and the letter that followed from Perez as a "Major Public Lands Victory" (AANR Bulletin, June 2009).
It was not a victory for naturists or nudists. Referring, in the June issue of AANR's Bulletin, to the Perez letter that attempts to append "remoteness" as a condition of the Cahill/Harrison regulation, AANR's Executive Director Erich Schuttauf wrote: "there is a big difference in 'getting it in writing.'" Indeed.
Mr. Schuttauf wrote that "[w]ritten reaffirmation of the Cahill Policy is a huge victory for nude recreation." Unfortunately, the "huge victory" offers very little to celebrate. It has been delivered with the recently invented and completely unacceptable "remoteness" condition attached to it, something AANR appears willing to accept and eager to celebrate, even if it means that DPR has thrown San Onofre under the bus in the process.
In his June article, Mr. Schuttauf complained that AANR's "ongoing discussions about modification of the San Onofre policy" had been "derailed" by NAC's lawsuit against DPR. The truth is that NAC had been involved with DPR and the proposed San Onofre closure for more than a month before AANR engaged. The further truth is that without NAC's prompt action and its lawsuit, there would be no nudity today at San Onofre State Beach.
WHAT ELSE IS NEW?
As she was being lobbied from within the DPR to close San Onofre to nudity, a big concern for DPR Director Ruth Coleman became the specter of a sexual harassment lawsuit. She had been led to believe that such a suit could be filed by an employee whose job was to deal with nude beachgoers. It was of little consequence to Director Coleman that employment law simply doesn't work that way.
Within the last year, however, there has been a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the Department over alleged activity at its San Onofre unit. The suit, which is ongoing, alleges improper behavior by male rangers toward a female ranger. It does not involve naturists or nudity on the beach.
NAC THANKS YOU!
When the Naturist Action Committee asked for your help last year in contacting the Director of DPR, you responded magnificently. Many of you are demonstrating through your generous contributions to NAC that you understand the significant expense associated with the Naturist Action Committee's important defense of naturism on public lands. NAC continues to rely on your support.
Friends of San Onofre Beach, NAC's co-plaintiff in the lawsuit, continues to do meaningful local fund raising. Also worthy of special mention yet again is the gracious contribution made to NAC last summer by the members of AANR-West.
NAC thanks all those who are choosing to make a difference!
Details of this situation and specifics of the Cahill/Harrison Regulation and associated documents may be found on the NAC Web page: www.naturistaction.org/sanonofre
There, you will find background documents and important files related to NAC's lawsuit.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
The Naturist Action Committee is in this for the long haul. Our successes have been significant, but the battle is not ended.
NAC will continue to issue Action Alerts, Advisories and Updates on this issue as circumstances require. Look for them.
PLEASE HELP NAC TO CONTINUE HELPING NATURISTS!
NAC is committed to the defense of clothing-optional use of public land. NAC does not hesitate to hire lawyers and lobbyists, and it has done exactly that in the San Onofre situation. That can be very expensive. NAC does not have a membership roster on which it can simply assess dues. NAC relies entirely on the voluntary support of people like YOU.
Won't you please send a generous donation to:
PO Box 132
Oshkosh, WI 54903
Or call toll free (800) 886-7230 (8AM-4PM, Central Time, weekdays) to donate by phone using your MasterCard, Visa or Discover Card. Or use your credit card to make a convenient online donation: www.naturistaction.org/donate/
Thank you for choosing to make a difference.
Naturist Action Committee
Naturist Action Committee (NAC)
- PO Box 132, Oshkosh, WI 54903
Executive Dir. Bob Morton - firstname.lastname@example.org
Board Member Allen Baylis - email@example.com
Online Rep. Dennis Kirkpatrick - firstname.lastname@example.org