By Laird Harrison
OAKLAND (Reuters) - In the San Francisco Bay area where tolerance is king, it is a rare politician willing to clamp down on citizens who let it all hang out.
But San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener stepped into that position earlier this week when he introduced an ordinance that would require nudists to cover their seats in public places and wear clothes in restaurants.
Public nudity, he explains, is legal in San Francisco and in recent years a group known informally as Naked Guys have shown unbridled enthusiasm for appearing in the nude.
"I see it pretty regularly, and unfortunately there are nudists who are not doing what they should," Wiener told Reuters.
The nudists, who expose themselves most often in the city's famous gay neighborhood, the Castro District, have got Wiener and others worrying about public health.
"I'm not a health expert, but I believe sitting nude in a public place is not sanitary," he said. "Would you want to sit on a seat where someone had been sitting naked? I think most people would say, 'No.'"
Wiener, who represents the Castro neighborhood, said he hears from merchants who fear the public displays may drive away customers, hurting the business' bottom lines.
That's particularly true in restaurants. He acknowledged that he has not seen any research establishing a health risk. "But when you have your orifices exposed in an eating establishment, a lot of people don't like it," he said.
California does have legislation against indecent exposure. But the law is lenient enough that it has barely affected San Francisco's current coterie of flaunters.
Weiner's proposed ordinance will next be assigned to a committee, and Wiener expects a public hearing within months. Clothing required.
(Editing by Alex Dobuzinskis and Cynthia Johnston)