Walking naked along Sacramento streets may soon be outlawed, as Sacramento officials on Tuesday advanced an amendment to the city’s public nudity ordinance.
Under current law, nudity is prohibited in parks, playgrounds, beaches and nearby waters, leaving nudity on a sidewalk perfectly legal. The City Law and Legislation Committee voted unanimously to send an ordinance prohibiting public nudity to the City Council for consideration. Council could vote on the measure by the end of June.
There was no debate among committee members. Only one person spoke during public comment: Sandy Riggs, a member of the American Association for Nude Recreation.
“The notion that most Californians are offended by nudity is shown to be a myth,” said Riggs, a Citrus Heights resident. “I ask you not to criminalize nudity in Sacramento. Nude is not lewd.”
The catalyst for updating the law came from recent incidents in which individuals were arrested on public nudity charges, but couldn’t be prosecuted since they were on sidewalks and not in city parks. Officials said the offenders were primarily inebriated individuals and homeless people.
“It’s basically a loophole in our ordinance,” said Sacramento police Capt. Katherine Lester, adding that the law dates back to 1975. “If somebody is just walking around naked, there’s really not much the Police Department can do.”
The proposed amendment explicitly states that “no person shall be nude upon public property or upon any portion of private property that is visible from public property.”
Exceptions to the amended law would include children under the age of 10, breast-feeding mothers, theatrical performers and nudity on public property inside a fully enclosed structure. Violations of the proposed amended ordinance would become a misdemeanor and could involve a fine.
Separately, the committee agreed to preliminary changes to the city code that would prohibit bicyclists on sidewalks in the area between Third and 16th Streets and H and N streets and J Street, between 16th and 29th streets. The city would put up signs and fine violators up to $100. Cyclists now are allowed to ride on sidewalks in areas considered residential. They face a $5 fine for riding on sidewalks in a nonresidential area.
Committee chair and District 5 Councilman Jay Schenirer instructed city staff to write the amended code, which he said would formally be voted on in the next few months.
The city’s action comes months after midtown resident Hilary Abramson began lobbying for stricter rules after she was hit by a cyclists while walking on the sidewalk a year ago. Abramson, a former Sacramento Bee reporter, required surgery and a two-week hospital stay, leaving her with a permanently shortened leg.