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The Bates Story:
Tradition 1950-2000
Bates Today
How it Will Work
Local Support

The Law:
Nuditys Laws in California
Beach Etiquette
Recent Developments
1972 Smith Case
1979 The Cahill Policy
1988 Bost Case
1988 The Harrison Policy
19879 Pryor Case
2006 Baca Letter

For First-Timers:
Nudism: The Basics
Beach Etiquette
Nudist Vocabulary

AT BATES BEACH, 1950-2000

Bates Beach, at the southern tip of Santa Barbara County just north of Rincon Point, enjoyed a clothing-optional status for decades, and flourished.

The beach was always considered a safe family-friendly environment that attracted several hundred people on summer weekends. Nudists kept their beach clean and quieter compared to other beaches. Often the only noise you heard was the sound of people playing volleyball or other beachgoers walking their dogs. These clothing-optional beachgoers and tourists ate at local restaurants, bought local services, and helped the local economy.

To be fair, Bates also drew some undesirables to the bluffs above. The nudists simply shooed them away whenever they became obnoxious, tried to take photos, or when they came down to the beach itself. Frankly, the nudists didn’t want to call the police because they didn’t want to draw attention to themselves, and the nudists still felt the cliff people were so few in numbers that they felt safe enough at the beach to bring their children. The community thrived, and this “live and let live” attitude from law enforcement and the local community worked for nearly 50 years.

In 1977 County Supervisor David Yager pushed through the Santa Barbara County anti-nudity ordinance. The law passed on a 3-2 vote after a contentious public hearing. Sheriff John Carpenter then swept the beach, issued tickets, and the nudists went away. For a year.

The next year nudists returned, and there was no further action taken against them at Bates, although the nude beach at Summerland was effectively shut down for good. Those nudists migrated down to Bates. Deputies again swept through Bates in 1992, issuing tickets for a few weekends during the summer. The nudists returned again, and there was an uneasy peace for several more years.

In 1999, a few of the residents at Rincon Point a mile to the south objected to the nudist presence (actually to ANYONE who dared use what the saw as their “private” beach”), and they again leaned on the local sheriff to remove the nudists. We have seen documents showing these opponents raised about $35,000 for the sheriff’s department, and subsequently there was a series of sweeps that resulted in hundreds of tickets being issued in 1999 and 2000. This time the nudists did not return to Bates, but moved elsewhere up the coast into isolated, undisclosed beach locations. But they never forgot about Bates. And they watched with dismay as the beach deteriorated into an under-used and dangerous place.

Click here for the current beach status...

Photos: Rincon Point's 72 residents live 1 mile away; Deputies on hill above Bates looking for nudists; Deputies on Bates issuing ticket to top-free woman.

The word "Tradition" comes from the Latin word "traditio", which means "to hand down" or "to hand over"..."a custom or a practice taught by one generation to another." Nude beaches have existed in Southern California for decades - if not centuries - and flourished with a "live and let live" attitude from law enforcement and their local communities.

Bates (North Rincon) Beach in Santa Barbara County is a good example of a beloved nude beach with a long tradition. That is what the Friends of Bates Beach cares about: "Passing down the tradition" and preserving our nude beaches for future generations to enjoy.

All photos and text (C) Copyright 2011 Southern California Naturist Association, Calabasas California. All Rights Reserved.

Feiends of Bates Beach asks for your support either through a financial donation (your donations help maintain this web site) or as a beach volunteer, or both.