Group wants to overturn nude beach ruling

July 23, 2009 12:42:13 PM PDT
A nude beach advocacy group asked the California Supreme Court in San Francisco today to overturn an appeals court ruling that makes it easier for park officers to crack down on nude sunbathing on state beaches.

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The petition for review was filed by Huntington Beach attorney Elva Kopacz on behalf of the Wisconsin-based Naturist Action Committee.

The brief argues that the high court's review is needed to clarify when a regulation has been validly adopted by a state agency.

It contends that "the regulated public and the government of the state of California will be poorly served" if a properly adopted regulation is invalidated for technical reasons.

The naturist group is appealing a decision in which a state appeals court last week overturned a 30-year-old state policy that informally allowed nudity on some state beaches.

Under that policy, set by former California Department of Parks and Recreation Director Russell Cahill in 1979, park officers tolerated nude sunbathing on some remote beaches unless a citizen complained.

But the appeals court said that policy was an "underground regulation" that hadn't gone through the procedural requirements under a state administrative law for public notice and comment.

The overturning of the policy means that park officers now have the discretion to warn or cite nude sunbathers even without a citizen complaint, according to state parks spokesman Roy Stearns.

The naturist group claims that Cahill "substantially complied" with the procedural requirements because the 1979 policy was clearly worded and was carefully researched and publicly discussed before being adopted.

Bay Area state beaches that allowed nude sunbathing under the former policy included Red Rock Beach south of Stinson Beach and Gray Whale Cove State Beach in Montara.

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