Santa Barbara County officials enforcing nudity ban

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) - Some beachgoers are upset that Santa Barbara County deputies have increased routine patrol on four popular shores to enforce a 27-year-old nudity ban.

So far this year, deputies have issued 149 citations - and 400 since last summer - to nude sunbathers. Those found in violation of the ban face a minimum fine of $50.

The crackdown has created an uncomfortable feeling among some beach visitors and sparked protests among others who say the 1973 law is prudish and discriminatory.

''It used to feel like a real relaxing place where people enjoyed the beach,'' said 33-year-old Anette Heaslet, who used to sunbathe topless at Summerland - one of the beaches where the ban is being enforced.

''Now, it's like, 'Where are the police? When are they coming?'''

But authorities said they've received many complaints about nudists which justifies the increased patrol at Summerland, Rincon, More Mesa and Gaviota that have reputations as being clothing-optional beaches.

Some people have said those locations have begun to attract exhibitionists and gain notoriety as pickup spots for those looking for casual sex.

But residents in upscale Summerland, a tourist town five miles south of Santa Barbara, say such troubles have not hit their shores.

''Our argument is, there is no complaint so why are you going after Summerland?'' said Jeffrey O'Neil. ''Maybe we're getting a little bit of guilt by association.''

Mike Burridge, spokesman for the Sheriff's Department, said they have received complaints from beach-goers at Summerland - although, he acknowledges, not as many as at other beaches.

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