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Seattle Parks seeking to ban nudity
By Erik Lacitis
Seattle Times staff reporter
This city's famous tolerance for the unconventional just got a little less so.
Here is a message from Seattle Parks and Recreation to all you nature lovers: Cover up those rear ends or face a possible criminal-trespass prosecution.
The proposed rule will have a public hearing Jan. 8, and parks commissioners will make a recommendation to Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher two weeks later.
That means you types who like to sneak a little skinny dipping at one of the city's beaches.
That means you naturists who like to get together in some secluded park location, and ... barbecue naked! Maybe even play volleyball.
That means you 50 to 75 naked bicyclists who, on July 12, took part in yet another of those World Naked Bike Rides (three have been held in Seattle this year) to "draw attention to oil dependency." That event particularly drew the attention of parks officials.
The bicyclists gathered at Gas Works Park and stripped, painted themselves and took off for downtown Seattle, eventually ending up at Seattle Center.
They obviously weren't trying to hide anything. They even got a permit to use Gas Works, openly saying it was for a naked bike ride.
A Nov. 13 parks memo said, "Seattle appears to be unique in receiving nudist request for use of park facilities."
The memo said many other cities had "some regulation of nudity in public places."
But not tolerant Seattle.
As a matter of fact, the memo said nudity is "per se not illegal" under state law, and that "Seattle has no law regulating public nudity."
This all came to the attention of Gallagher, who's been superintendent less than a year, and the agency now has the proposed nudity rules. Gallagher was not available for comment.
Dewey Potter, parks spokeswoman, said police had received six complaints July 12 that the naked riders were offensive.
Police took down 23 riders' names.
Daniel Johnson, 34, organizer of the July 12 event, said none has been charged.
The proposed rule would not affect renting enclosed public swimming pools for private nudist events.
The rule also shouldn't affect the naked bicycle ride at the Fremont Fair, as participants don't gather at a park.
Johnson said he didn't understand Seattle Parks' new-found prudishness.
On the naked bike rides, "I've never seen a child react negatively," he said. "They just laugh or point or ask what's going on."
As for Seattle Parks' concerns about adults being offended, "People just whistle and honk their horns."
Potter said she expected a big crowd for the Jan. 8 hearing. There certainly will be plenty to discuss.
In its proposed new rule, it takes 53 words just to describe what "nudity" means.