Key West voters will not be faced with one controversial issue this fall election season: whether or not to create a clothing optional beach. At this week’s City Commission meeting, Commissioners had the option of passing the ordinance through a second reading. But, as The Key West Weekly reports, after more, shall we say “airing of opinions” the measure have enough support.
“We use Smathers Beach as a personal place, and there isn’t an option to go somewhere else,” Paul Menta a Key West resident and kiteboarder spoke in Old City Hall. “The stretch of beach has been voted by National Geographic as one of the “Top Adventure Trips in the U.S. So, the beach is being used, and the area is attracting tourists.” The argument also turned to the issue of how can voters make an educated decision, when a specific location hasn’t been determined for Key West’s nude beach.
“People need to know where the location is before you put this up to the vote,” notes Key West resident Christine Russell. “I really want to urge you to not pass this the way it’s set up now. Put a group together who are interested and let them come up with a destination.”
Echoing Russell’s sentiments — Mayoral candidate Sloan Bashinsky, “People don’t know what they’re voting for because we don’t know what beach.”
Chairwoman for Florida Keys Free Beaches, Tracy Leigh addressed the Commissioners, “You need to educate yourselves and understand the difference from nude and lewd.”
Remarks Commissioner Clayton Lopez took offense to. “I’ve never been so threatened and challenged by someone coming before the body. That bothers me. We are not Haulover Beach. This is not a proposal for Fantasy Fest. I want to end those comparisons… I propose a workshop on this issue rather than move this forward.”
Commissioner Joe Pais, who has spent time talking with a local wedding planner who counts on the beach area to be open for nuptial events noted the city could be “opening Pandora’s box, figuratively.”
“We have an ordinance that stands, it serves the people well. We start playing around with that we might be open to some legal issues.
Leave the ordinance alone. We’ve had clothing optional before. Businesses that run clothing optional have failed. This has already proven to be a failure.”
Start your own business, is what Commissioner Pais advised those interested in a nude beach, and buy your own property to start a clothing optional beach. With that, he said, “I would like to pull this off the agenda.”
If we take this to referendum without a location,” Commissioner Johnston followed Pais, “It’s going to result in a failed referendum.”
But, instead of being tabled and a workshop date to discuss the measure, the ordinance failed.
Mayor Morgan McPherson saying there is a mass of misinformation, “At this point I have a clear understanding it’s clearly ambiguous to not allow this to pass a 2nd reading. The idea of a workshop would be a waste of time. The individuals you expect to come don’t come and the individuals you expect to see will come”
An ending making Menta smile, “Smathers is clean, kept well, and I do not see people down there who are drunks and drug addicts.”
The ordinance to allow for a clothing optional beach in Key West FAILS. City Commissioners deciding not to include the issue in the October general election.