SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco may be getting ready to shed its image as a city where anything goes, including clothing.
City lawmakers are scheduled to vote Tuesday on an ordinance that would prohibit nudity in most public places, a ban that represents an escalation of a two-year tiff between a devoted group of men who strut their stuff through the city's famously gay Castro District and the supervisor who represents the area.
Supervisor Scott Wiener's proposal would make it illegal for those older than 5 to expose themselves "on any public street, sidewalk, street median, parklet or plaza" or while using public transit.
A first offense would carry a maximum penalty of a $100 fine, but prosecutors could charge a third violation as a misdemeanor punishable by up to a $500 fine and a year in jail.
Exemptions would be made for participants at permitted street fairs and parades, such as the city's annual gay pride event and the Folsom Street Fair, which celebrates sadomasochism and other sexual subcultures.
Wiener said he felt compelled to act after constituents complained about the naked men who gather in a small Castro plaza and sometimes walk the streets au naturel. He persuaded his colleagues last year to enact a law requiring a cloth to be placed between public seating and bare rears, yet the complaints have continued.
The proposed ban has produced outrage, and a lawsuit. Last week, about two dozen people disrobed in front of City Hall and marched around the block to the amusement of gawking tourists and high school students on a field trip.
McCray Winpsett, 37, said he understands the disgust of residents who would prefer not to see the body modifications and devices sported by some of the Castro nudists. But he thinks the prohibition would undermine a tradition "that keeps San Francisco weird." "A few lewd exhibitionists are really ruining it for the rest of us," he said.