Council moves ahead with nudity law

A step towards a City ordinance to replace a draconian state law

| Feb 3, 2010

NAKED: Highlights of City Council deliberation and vote on nudity ordinance, Feb. 2, 2010 (Boulder Municipal Channel 8 video edited by Boulder Express)

A nice liberal compromise appears to be emerging from the Boulder City Council’s move to pass a law about public nudity.

The Council voted Feb. 2, 2010, to adopt on first reading an ordinance that will probably, in its final form, give police and the courts a way to ticket total nudity, but allow toplessness. City officials had suggested the ordinance because, until now, the unclad could only be arrested under a State of Colorado statute against indecent exposure; conviction under that law could put offenders onto a public list of sex offenders — a rather dire consequence for youthful streaking at the Naked Pumpkin Run or at a pro-bicycling demonstation.

The law’s rationale is that City officials saw the need for a way to enforce some curbs on public displays of nudity (not to mention the leering crowds they attract) with a local, and less draconian, ordinance. They were proposing a fairly routine City ordinance where, probably only through oversight, there has been none.

Council Member Macon Cowles suggested a crucial change to the draft ordinance to remove its specific stricture against displaying the female breast, which he and Council Member Lisa Morzel noted discriminatorily targeted women only. The Council voted 5-3 to accept these wording changes. Council Members Suzy Ageton, George Karakehian and Ken Wilson dissented — unmasking them, apparently, as the Council’s relative social conservatives.

After a bit of discussion, the Council voted 6-2 to adopt the thus-amended measure on first reading. Morzel and Cowles cast the dissenting votes, both clearly preferring that the Council not address the matter at all. A second reading of the ordinance — plus public testimony and possible adoption of the measure into law — is slated for the Council meeting of Feb. 16.

Naturally. this agenda item was enough to draw Denver TV crews, inasmuch as s-e-x plus a chance to trot out the “weird Boulder” stereotype are pretty irresistible to local-TV assigning editors.