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.