Residents, swimmers clash over 'clothing optional' beach

Residents, swimmers clash over 'clothing optional' beach
Published: Mar. 3, 2016 at 11:18 PM HST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2016 at 1:19 PM HST
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MOKULEIA,OAHU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Residents and swimmers are clashing over nudity on a North Shore beach, and they both say the law's on their side.

Polo Beach in Mokuleia has long been known as a "clothing optional" beach, a fact that angers area homeowners.

Denise Kuehu and other residents say the nudity has gotten out of hand, and that public decency laws should be enforced to keep beachgoers clothed.

"It's been going on for so long that we're basically getting tired that we don't have anybody from the government or the state helping us out on this," she said.

But Polo Beach regulars like RoAnne Gatt say they're not bothering anyone, and they want to officially designate the beach as a nude sunbathing site.

"If there are families who do walk past, we do put on something to hide our genitals," she said. "We are respectful of families who do stroll across the beach."

Richard Spacer, of the Naturist Action Committee, is behind the push to make Polo Beach clothing optional.

He argues that "de facto usage" over the decades has effectively labeled the beach as a nudist one. He also pointed to a 2000 Supreme Court ruling, "which has effectively made non-lewd nudity legal."

The nudists garnered a victory last year, when the city took off "nudity" as among the things prohibited at the beach. The city said it made the wording change so the sign confirmed to others on the island.

Mokuleia residents plan to bring up their concerns over nudity and lewd conduct on the beach at the next meeting of the North Shore Neighborhood Board.

Neighborhood Board member Moana Bjur said she understands the nudists' argument, but "would have to say that if it's going to make anyone else uncomfortable, that's not what our public spaces are for."

Residents also point out that there have been many complaints of people in the nude groups having sex on Polo Beach.

"Unfortunately, some people don't know what the limits are and we do want to protect all of our children and our beachgoers here," Bjur said.

Spacer said he doesn't support public sex or lewdness. "That belongs in your home or your hotel," he said.

Gatt said she'd be offended by the lewd acts,too.

"We don't do that. We are respectable people. We have respectable jobs," she said.

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