‘Bun-bathers’ lobby to save Black’s nude beach in San Diego
First published in the Daily Aztec
San Diego State University, student newspaper
April 20, 1977
The naked truth about Black’s Beach is that it is among the most popular in San Diego. On a sunny weekend more than 30,000 persons visit the swimsuit-optional beach at La Jolla, said Jake Jacobs, chairperson of the Nude Beaches Committee, which has just won another round in the continuing battle for swimsuit-optional beaches.
“We want to see Black’s Beach recognized for what it is – the most
popular beach in San Diego,” Jacobs said. “In spite of this, there are no services – no parking areas, no restrooms or access steps.”
Designated “swimsuit optional” about three years ago, the 900-foot strip of beach between La Jolla shores and Torrey Pines State Beach has been a political football in the San Diego City Council ever since.
With its growing popularity, the crowd of nude sunbathers has gradually spread north, ignoring signs indicating the limit of the swimsuit-optional zone.
As a result, Sen. John Stull, R-Riverside, recently introduced a bill in the state Senate that would have prohibited nudity on all state property – including the Torrey Pines State Beach north of Black’s.
Cosponsored by 13 other senators, three of whom were members of the Natural Resources and Wildlife Committee, the bill seemed certain to pass. But the Nude Beaches Committee sprang into action, sending its chairperson, Jacobs, and committee members Joe Chirra and David Irving to Sacramento to lobby against the proposed bill.
“We were able to get it defeated in the Natural Resources and Wildlife Committee,” Jacobs said. “We spoke about the changes it would necessitate in the bureaucracy, and how it would reduce local communities’ input into the parks department. We also said it was occupying the Senate with business it should not really be concerned with. As a result, one of the cosponsors, Peter Behr, R-Sonoma, changed his vote.”
Jacobs said his committee does not view swimsuit-optional beaches as a moral issue. “Rather, we would merely like to provide recreation facilities for all people,” he said. “Our philosophy has always been that dress should not be mandatory at any beach, and that nudity per se is not a moral question. We believe that how people dress should not be a consideration of government – all beaches should be swimsuit-optional.
“I would like to see (a situation in which) people who want clothing to be mandatory should have to climb down a 300-foot cliff and use a beach with no facilities.”
But some persons remain unconvinced that swimsuit-optional beaches are necessary or desirable. “I have always been against them,” said San Diego City Council Member Lee Hubbard, third district. “I don’t think we have to be known as the only city in the United States to have a nude beach. I will continue to resist it.”
Hubbard said even though Black’s Beach attracted tourists to San Diego, it was not the kind of tourist attraction the city needed. “It is not the kind of tourist attraction I want,” he said. “Those people who go to the beach and enjoy themselves would do so just as much with swimsuits on. They would get along just great in bikinis or ribbon-type swimsuits.”
Hubbard said the city is negotiating contracts with architects to draw up plans for access steps down the cliff to Black’s Beach.
Jacobs said the main priority of the Nude Beaches Committee is to get services for the 250,000 people who use Black’s each year. The committee also wants recognition for Torrey Pines beach, which is de-facto swimsuit-optional for at least one-and-a-half miles. It will also work for the establishment of other nude beaches “as the population using Black’s beach shows that this needs to be done,” Jacobs said.
The only problems at Black’s, according to Jacobs, are the Navy and Marine personnel who come there for the first time. “The experience of Black’s is a first-time experience for many of them, so they expect the women to all be libertines and they approach them this way,” he said. “They also tend to be a little louder and a little drunker. We would like to see more women willing and able to come down to the beach – they do hesitate to come there because they worry about being harassed.”
Jacobs said the sightseers and “gawkers” who used to line the top of the cliffs have largely disappeared. “They either go down to the beach or go home because they cannot see enough,” he said.
Crime is less at Black’s Beach than at other county beaches, he added, in spite of it being the most popular on a person-a-square-foot basis.
“Our message is now becoming a national one,” Jacobs said. “We get calls from all over the country and we have become a national clearing house for nude beach and public area information.”
This post is dedicated to Mark Orwoll, the brillian writer and editor, who coined the name of my new enterprise: SWIL-icious. Thank you Mark!