California To Crack Down On Nude Beaches

As reported by The Orange County Register

SAN ONOFRE STATE BEACH, Calif. Nicole Archuletta looked down at her naked body and shrugged.

“No tan lines,” said Archuletta, 25, sitting in a beach chair on the sand next to her husband, Kevin. “It’s just natural.”

On a recent weekday, Archuletta was just one of a handful of beach-goers who stripped down to nothing but sunglasses at Trail 6 at San Onofre State Beach, a small stretch of sand encased by 50-foot-tall, rocky cliffs, reachable by a short stroll down a curvy dirt path.

Trail 6 is a secluded area abutting Camp Pendleton property where beach-goers can let it all hang out — literally. The 1,000-foot beach, one of few “clothing-optional” beaches with a lax approach to nudity, has been a safe haven for “naturists” for decades.

That might change in the next month, as the state sets out to crack down on nudity at the beach, in a move that has some longtime locals fuming and worrying about where they’ll go. State Parks started an educational period today, warning beach-goers of the change, and start citing after Labor Day, officials said. They will not be asked to put their clothes on until enforcement starts.

State Parks spokesman Roy Stearns said the decision comes after an increase in complaints about the influx of people to the area in recent years. The number of people who go to San Onofre, in San Diego County, increased to about 2.5 million last year, from about 1.7 million people in 2000, officials said.

“It’s no longer one of those remote beaches that is out of sight and out of mind, that few people go to,” Stearns said.

Some in the naturist community, however, believe it could be the beginning of a trend to strip away other known clothing-optional areas under state jurisdiction.

“We have people who have been going there for more than 30 years,” said Allen Baylis, a naturist and attorney who has frequented the beach since the `70s. “This is like driving a stake through their heart. This is where they go to relax. This is their life.”

Stearns said some rangers who work at the beach have complained recently about being exposed to a “sexually charged” environment. The state needs to be mindful or may face lawsuits, he said.

Staff members also have complained about “trash such as used condoms, pornographic material and adult sex toys, which has to be cleaned up by our people,” Stearns said.

In the past five years, officials have handed out 83 citations for lewd behavior and 35 tickets for indecent exposure in the area, Stearns said. A 35-year-old man was arrested late last year on suspicion of molesting a 12-year-old in the area, Stearns said.

Baylis, director of Naturist Action Committee and president of the Friends of San Onofre Beach, said naturists abide by strict guidelines and keep an eye out for lewd conduct. Labeling them as the ones engaging in sexual or illegal activity is unfair, he said.

“We absolutely stand up and oppose any kind of lewd activity on that beach or any other beach,” Baylis said. “We’ve always opposed allowing any sort of illicit activity. It’s probably the friendliest and cleanest beach you’ll find.”

The beach can draw hundreds of naked people on any given warm weekend.Beach-goers battle on the volleyball courts. Surfers take the waves without a wetsuit — weather permitting, of course. Some simply go there to tan, bare backside to the sky.

Stearns said the move in San Onofre is not part of a trend to crack down on “clothing-optional” areas within the State Parks system.

“It doesn’t mean they’ll be closed down, unless there are problems that have developed that force us to focus attention on it,” he said.

When Kevin Archuletta was asked whether enforcement would stop him from hanging out naked, he asked, “How much would the ticket be? If it cost $50, I’ll still come.”