Gaviota State Park
Gaviota meeting shows that changes are statewide – not limited to a single park
Naturists on beaches are the ones who are affected. It’s not a situation that can be resolved by offering an online “meetup group” at One Beach as a substitute for butts in the sand throughout the state.
GAVIOTA STATE PARK, California — In a particularly distressing recent incident at Gaviota State Park, a California Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) ranger had not only issued a citation for nudity a citation for nudity on the beach, he accompanied the ticket with a derisive lecture about the moral depravity of those who choose to be naked.
The gratuitous dressing down caught the attention of Dennis Craig Smith. A well known author and long time naturist, Smith heads Friends of Gaviota and is an Area Representative for the Naturist Action Committee. Smith politely asked for a meeting with the DPR management responsible for Gaviota.
Such local meetings, formal and otherwise, have not been uncommon. Just a little more than a year ago, on July 1, 2010, Smith and a few Friends of Gaviota members had met with Daniel Lee Falat, Superintendent for Gaviota State Park, Refugio State Beach, and El Capitan State Beach, and with DPR’s Channel Islands District Superintendent Richard Charles Rozzelle. At that meeting, Falat said that his rangers would continue following protocol that was based on the Rich Rozzelle Dan Falat Dennis Craig Smith, NAC Area Rep. Cahill Policy. That longstanding DPR policy accepted nudity, unless a complaint was made. In the event of a complaint, an established procedure allowed for the timely mitigation of “user conflict,” and the subsequent restoration of personal freedoms for those who choose nudity.
Having been put in place in 1979 by former DPR Director Russell Cahill, the Cahill Policy allowed a flawed but effective means of managing for clothing-optional recreation in units of the State Park system. However, when DPR Director Ruth Coleman signed a directive that terminated Cahill at San Onofre State Beach in 2008, the Parks Department was left with no statewide policy regarding clothing optional recreation. While one national nudist organization voiced the notion that Cahill would remain in force at California state parks that weren’t named San Onofre, most naturists recognized that fantasy to be neither credible nor reasonable.
The Naturist Action Committee has pointed out since 2008 that if DPR could abrogate Cahill at one park, it could do so at any park – or at all parks.
On September 1, 2011, Superintendent Falat and District Superintendent Rozzelle met with Dennis Smith and a small handful of naturists in the DPR office at Refugio State Beach. The two Parks Department employees showed no reluctance in exposing Falat’s assurance from last year as the outright untruth it had become.
After the meeting, Smith sent an e-mail to members of Friends of Gaviota. “I do wish I had better news to report after our meeting with Rich Rozzelle and Dan Falat,” he wrote. “For so long, we had productive meetings with Superintendent Danita Rodriguez and Officer Eric Hjelstrom, but yesterday the meeting indicated very well that the state is intent on closing down the clothing-optional beaches on state park property.”
Smith continued: “The mantra was: ‘the Cahill Policy is dead, and Regulation 4322 outlaws nudity on state park property.’ For decades we enjoyed hassle free clothing optional use and this seems to be on the verge of being a thing of the past. They have closed Trail #6 at San Onofre State Beach to nudity, and it seems clear they are intent on doing it on all the other nudist beaches in the state.”
A major objective of the meeting was to register concern and outrage at the combative and officious manner in which the ranger had addressed the beachgoers to whom he was giving nudity citations. Smith reports that upon mention of the ranger’s demeaning morality lecture, “the mood of the officials turned hostile quickly, and we were accused of ‘slandering’ their officers.” Smith says that Rozzelle and Falat characterized naturists as “being the ones who have been abusive and rude to the park personnel, who are ‘only doing their duty.’”
Smith reminded Falat and Rozzelle of the cooperative efforts in which Friends of Gaviota have participated over the years by sticking up for proper standards of behavior on the beach and by organizing beach cleanups [NAC Newsletter, August, 2011]. Superintendent Falat dismissed the good works with a response that directly compared naturists to felons, saying: “If twenty cocaine users on a beach save a drowning man, we’ll still arrest ‘em all”
Who is slandering whom?
NAC board member Allen Baylis points out that it was DPR itself that made naturists into criminals. On one day, nudists were enjoying State Park beaches legally, under the Cahill Policy. But by the next day, California Parks Director Ruth Coleman – a bureaucrat elected by no one – had signed a piece of paper rescinding the Cahill Policy. Suddenly, naturists in State Parks throughout the state were criminals.
Ticketing for nudity is not being confined to San Onofre nude beach and Gaviota. Citations have also been given by DPR rangers at Garrapata State Park in Monterey County and Lake Perris State Recreation Area in Riverside County. Nevertheless, those who recently accepted the DPR fiction that the Cahill Policy would continue to be honored outside of San Onofre are now expected to embrace DPR’s next “project.”
“One Beach” is not just the name of an online film that’s being sponsored by a vintner. It’s the working title of a DPR scheme to close all state parks to clothing-optional use — except for just ONE BEACH. Because the established nudist user group at that particular beach does not accept the new anti-nudity policy throughout the state, DPR and its accomplice are looking to an online “meetup group” as a substitute.