Current Status of Bates Beach

October 18, 2017

I received an email from Supervisor William's Field Deputy last night, stating there are some very angry community members because they feel uncomfortable going to the beach and taking their kids. They have been starting to contact me directly asking for increased enforcement.

Until further notice, nudists going to Bates Beach are advised to sit as far down the beach as possible, continue to be discreet and respectful when others walk by, and if asked to get dressed, please comply. We don't want this to flash to a point where deputies start coming down, because according to our agreement last May they have the discretion to give tickets if they choose. Meanwhile I will try to meet with the neighbors to see if we can work something out.


October 11, 2017

Thanks all 15 of you who volunteered to staff our booth over 3 days at the Carpinteria Avocado Festival. It was a lot of work but we successfully got our message out to the public that Bates once again had a clothing-optional area as long as we acted responsibly and draw no complaints. The results of our poll taken at the both show nearly 70% of those attending the show agreed, an overwhelming show of support!

I have added a few photos to our Friends of Bates Beach to show some of our volunteers and other scenes from the Festival. They estimate about 90,000 people came to the event, and I know we spoke to several thousand of them!

September 19, 2017

20 members of Friends of Bates Beach met with Deputy County Parks Director Brian Yanez and Field Deputy Ashley Kunzel representing County Supervisor Das Williams. The 2-hour meeting discussed recent complaints about nudity at Bates Beach.

Kunzel emphasized that there had been no change in the county nudity law and the Supervisor did not want to change it. Sheriff deputies still have the right to warn or ticket people on the beach if they receive complaints. To date they have received 15 written complaints (out of hundreds who have visited the beach).

She was concerned the recent articles about the clothing-optional section at Bates that appeared in the Haulover Beach newsletter and the Young Naturist America blog would attract too many people to the beach and thus bring in a bad element.

We pointed out that both articles appeared in nudist publications on the east coast and so there was little danger of Florida nudists coming soon for a visit.

FOBB in turn objected to the cutting of the shrubs back from the No Nudity sign at the top of the entrance to the beach (see photo) instead of letting the bushes grow around it to obscure it. FOBB said the county sign was the reason for the complaints.

Director Yanez said he received no such request from the Supervisor and so county workers were just doing their job. He said the sign will not be removed.

By the end of the meeting both sides agreed to work together because the nudist problem would not go away since there were several hundred in the county who deserved a designated place of their own.

Ashley said a representative from the Sheriff's office will likely attend the October Meetup in Carpinteria on October 13 to discuss the complaints in more detail.

(Note: neither Kunzel nor any other official came to the October meetup dinner).

September 16, 2017

For the 11th year in a row, members of Friends of Bates Beach and other volunteers gathered at 9 am at the Pavilion area above Bates Beach to participate in the annual National Beach Cleanup Day.

Our volunteers received empty trash bags, gloves, poke sticks, and a form used to catalog the kinds of trash collected. Over the 3-hour event at Bates, we logged cigarette butts, food wrappers, plastic bottles, and Styrofoam pieces. We also cleared a homeless site down by the pier, several lobster traps, and a 10-ft. long piece of rusty pipe that had fallen from the cliff above the beach.

Over 225 bags of dog excrement were also retrieved. In total, we collected 223 pounds of trash from the 2.5 miles of sand.

Sponsored by the California Coastal Commission, nearly 1100 volunteers showed up across Santa Barbara County to clean 5,600 lbs. of trash from 83 miles of coastline.

May 12, 2017

Friends of Bates Beach (FOBB) has successfully negotiated a return to clothing-optional use at Bates (North Rincon) Beach at the Santa Barbara-Ventura county border, but with some conditions. Nudists will no longer be ticketed if they remain in the traditional nude area that starts 1500 feet west of the ramp down to the beach. Tickets will be given if nudists wander east of that boundary. This boundary is about 200 feet west of the old rusty pipe that sticks out of the cliff above the beach. We intend to better mark this boundary on our next visit to the beach, so nobody will be confused.

We also are purchasing some portable signs announcing the change that will be placed in the sand there when our members are at the beach. We reached a verbal agreement with the County Parks Department and SB County Sheriff's Department in late April, but FOBB wanted a letter all nudists could carry so that a rouge deputy or ranger would not ticket us on the beach. Apparently, this was just about a done deal as the county's Undersheriff Bernard Bernie Melekian and the Deputy Parks Director Brian Yanez had agreed to our letter suggestion, when one of the Sheriff Commanders in the room objected. From an anonymous source who was there, we learned this person complained the nudists would attract a bad element to the beach and so we would be back to where we were in 1999 when the nudists were chased off the first time. Ironically, the objector was Commander Darryl Farthingham, in charge of the Sheriff's Department's Central City zone in mid-Santa Barbara County. This is the same Farthingham who, as a lieutenant in 1999, led the team of deputies who issued hundreds of tickets at Bates and Summerland during the removal process.

Because of this, the county backed off from removing the No Nudity sign at the top of the ramp down to Bates Beach. However, as the sign is barely visible now because of a nearby overgrown bush, the county agreed not to trim the plant so that the sign would be totally hidden by the end of the year. Our sign on the beach Nudity Okay Beyond this Point will not be viewed as a contradiction as the No Nudity still applies to the eastern half of the beach.

The sheriff's department agreed not to come down to the beach except on complaint, and then will only request the nudists get dressed for the remainder of the day to avoid user conflict. This is almost identical to the old Cahill Policy used in the California State Park system until a few years ago. Tickets will only be issued for lewd activity, which the sheriff's department plans to vigorously enforce with the help of the FOBB Beach Ambassadors. Only if there are a lot of complaints for nudity received will the Sheriff's Department consider rescinding this agreement and return to ticketing for mere nudity.

So, it is up to FOBB to make sure beach behavior guidelines are followed and that families walking past the nudists are not harassed or otherwise offended, as Farthingham requested. FOBB says the big test will come this summer, after a few initial visits to the beach to acclimate the textile beachgoers to our presence, when we once again hoist the volleyball nets and have our first nude game on the sand in almost two decades. It is our hope that, if the Beach Ambassadors do their job and hand out literature about the nudist area to people along the entire beach, then the shock of seeing nude volleyball will be lessened and there will be no complaints.

FOBB also has won approval for the County Parks Department to place a couple of trash cans at the foot of the ramp up from the beach so people can deposit trash and pet refuge there. This has long been requested by FOBB as a way to prevent people leaving their doggie bags on the beach when they leave for home.

Regarding dogs, as everyone knows, Bates is also an unofficial dog off leash beach in defiance of the County Leash Law. Dog walkers from all over bring their animals to romp across the sand. FOBB has not objected to this, but we did point out to the County the hypocrisy of allowing dog owners to disobey the law while nudists were being singled out. As it turns out, we learned that last year a group of dog owners petitioned the county to make Bates an official Off-Leash beach. The county decided they did not want to do this for fear the beach would attract dogs and dog owners from neighboring counties and lead to dog fights, etc. They agreed to allow the Animal Control Department to ignore the dogs at Bates unless there was a complaint. This is the same logic they have now applied to the nudist's request.

To summarize, this is not the complete legal restoration we had hoped for, but County Supervisor Williams' office gave some hope that if we prove Farthingham wrong and earn our beach then Supervisor Williams agreed that FOBB and the county can revisit our request in a couple of years to have the county anti-nudity ordinance amended.


April 30, 2017

We had a very busy and most productive month at Bates Beach since the last time I reported.

In chronological order:

  1. A reminder: I had a brief conversation with Supervisor Das Williams in Ventura on March 22 about legalizing nudity at Bates Beach. He knew who I was, had read the 40-page proposal I has submitted last fall to his staff, and agreed the beach should be nudist. He wanted to do it without a vote of the supervisors and I told him that there was no way to guarantee that the next sheriff or county parks chair would agree to the nudity so a legal change was important. He nodded and understood, and we went our separate ways.

  2. There was a public hearing at the Carpinteria Library on April 6 hosted by the Santa Barbara MTA about changing the bus routes between Santa Barbara and Carpinteria. I could not make the meeting but I sent to their public works manager our proposal to extend the MTA line #21 to Bates as it will be the trail head for the Rincon Coastal Trail once it is completed sometime in 2019. I saw this manager a few weeks later at the Carpinteria State of the City luncheon and reminded him I had spoken at a similar hearing a year ago about our proposal. He remembered me and said he got the latest email. He seemed hopeful the line will be extended as we proposed.

  3. April 14 was the Meetup in Ventura. April 18 was the Carpinteria meetup. My report on these were submitted separately.

  4. April 18, a few hours prior to the Carp Meetup, I attended the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Avocado Festival office, giving me an opportunity to again pitch our desire for a booth in October. They said we will hear in late July or August when booths are assigned. At the ceremony, I happened to run into Supervisor Das Williams, whose district includes Bates Beach. We only had about a minute conversation, but he said the essence of you are all set on the beach. I made some phone calls and the parks department isn't interested in giving you tickets and neither is the local sheriff department as long as there is no lewd behavior. We are going to do it this way without a vote of the Board. I thanked him and he went on to talk to others at the event. I was actually stunned by the news.

  5. I came home and told several members of our SCNA Board about the conversation, and I was reminded we needed this change of policy in writing since the street deputy may not understand what the county chief was directing. I spoke with Shirley Mason (Haulover Beach) for about an hour that next evening and she agreed we needed a letter before we should tell everyone the beach was back. I sent Allen Baylis a letter about this but did not hear back for a few days.

  6. On Friday, April 21, I attended the annual State of the City luncheon in Carpinteria were all the politicians and business leaders gather to hobnob. It is always a great place to meet people you otherwise cannot get in to see. I was able to speak briefly with Danita Rodriquez, the new Area Superintendent for the State Parks (in charge of Ventura County, Santa Barbara County, and the Channel Islands). She had been in the area a decade ago as a deputy superintendent and she had a positive arrangement with Dennis Smith and the Friends of Gaviota Beach before he was reassigned and her successor shut down the beach. I told her who I was and asked for a meeting, she agreed, and we are trying to align our calendars to meet sometime in the coming two weeks.

    As luck had it, I was seated next to Das Williams's Field Deputy, Ashley Kunkle, whom I have known since Williams was the local Assemblyman. I thanked her for getting us back the beach but said we needed a letter and I told her why. I also asked that the No Nudity sign be removed at the top of the ramp going down to the beach as it would only confuse people. She said she would ask her boss to call County Parks about the sign. She also asked me to submit sample language for the letter. I went home and located the Baca letter about hiking in the Angeles Forest, and I found the letter about Haulover from the Dade County Police Chief. Neither really fits our situation so I emailed Allen Baylis requesting some sample language for the letter.

  7. On April 23, I spoke with Allen at the Bare Burro 5K event at Olive Dell and explained the Bates situation in detail. On Monday, he called me back, after speaking with Bob Morton of NAC. They preferred the Board vote to change the law and also to amend a separate section that relates to female top freedom.

  8. On April 26, I attended the Carpinteria Chamber mixer and I asked Ashley about this. She said her boss said there would be no vote, and what we were offered was as far as the Supervisor was willing to go. I phone Allen and told him. He said he would research some sample language for the letter.

  9. I am scheduled to meet with the Supervisor on Friday May 5 to conclude the deal.

We probably can't get a Beyond This Point You May Encounter Nude Sunbathers sign. We will have to wait a year or so until we demonstrate we are good neighbors and the nude beach is an asset to the Carpinteria community. Shirley said that is what happened at Haulover beach 25 years ago. Therefore, until we get it in writing, we are advising no change in the beach status yet.