Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Cahill Memo Policy in Jepoardy?

For those of you who don't know, the Cahill Memo Policy prescribes an essentially hand-offs approach to dealing with simple nudity in traditional or recognized clothing-optional areas within the State Park System of California. The Cahill Memo (named after the State Parks Director at the time) is a tradeoff between legal recognition of clothing-optional areas and the political climate at that time which made it difficult to bestow a legal status to these places. The 'Memo' recognizes that some place have traditional nude use and that, lacking complaints, the state will not cite someone for nude use but rather ask them to cover up and discontinue nude use for the day.

The Cahill Memo influences the activities of many jurisdictions, even outside of California. Many law enforcement personnel will only act on a complaint and then only if you fail to cover up as asked . . . which is in line with the Cahill Memo.

In the last few weeks I've noticed a flurry of forum postings and a NAC Alert over activities within the California State Park system that interpret or ignore the Cahill Memo entirely. The alerts that I am aware of are:

  • American River, where rangers sought to prohibit skinny-dipping and nude use despite de facto traditional use. The Cahill Memo requires nudity be handled on a case-by-case basis only after a complaint. The rangers were planning to ban nude use withot any consideration of th Cahill Memo. Fortunately, the Naturist Action Committee stepped in and convinced the rangers to abide by the spirit of Cahill.

  • Bonny Doon Beach, near Santa Cruz, also has a long tradition of clothing-optional use. Postings in the RixPlace Forum indicate that the status of traditional nude use may be treatened at Bonny Doon as it comes under the the State Parks System. To quote from the Bay Area Naturist's:
Bonny Doon Beach, about ten miles northwest of Santa Cruz, California, has been a popular clothing-optional beach for nearly forty years. This year, as it comes under California State Parks administration, its clothing-optional status may be in jeopardy. Preservation of its status requires a committee of concerned regular users of Bonny Doon, willing to meet as required with State Parks and other officials, with guidance from the Naturist Action Committee.
  • Grey Whale Cove (also known as 'Devil's Slide') is another traditional clothing-optional area. The web page managed by the state for Gray Whale Cove has has a subtle but important change on it. There was reference to clothes-optional sunbathing there and that has been removed, at least the "clothes-optional" part. Intentional? An attempt to limit the information that naturists may find about clothing-optional opportunities? It's a subtle change with the effect that a unwary textile visitor will assuredly come across nude use without expecting it . . . upping the probability of complaints and pressure to stop nude use in this traditional area.

  • Black's Beach north of San Diego. Black's Beach is the subject of another NAC Alert because of the onerous consequences of new signs posted at the beach boundaries. The signs flatly, and improperly state that "Nudity in the State Parks System is Prohibited".

    Again, this is subtle. The Cahill Memo allows nude use to be suspended if there are complaints. While the status at Black's Beach has not changed, these signs could encourage complaints from observers to essentially shut down the beach. While this hasn't happened yet, one has to wonder why the State Parks System felt it necessary to post those signs at one of the most popular clothing-optional beaches in California. Are they hoping for confrontation?
From the forums, it is observed that elections are coming up and nudity often gets picked upon as an easy target. I have to wonder if this is a deeper effort of the conservative state government under 'Arnie' to modify or eliminate the protocols and policy (underpinned by the Cahill Memo) that have existed successfully since 1979.

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