[Vision2020] Has it really been fifteen years since . . .

Moscow Cares moscowcares at moscow.com
Thu Nov 9 03:50:49 PST 2017

2002-13 Public Nudity Ordinance

There are some familiar names among the citizens testifying at this public hearing.

Courtesy of the Moscow City Council minutes for July 1, 2002.


6.  Proposed Public Indecency Ordinance Revisions – Gary J. Riedner/Randy Fife 
A challenge to Moscow City Code Section 10-1-16 in the fall of 1998 resulted in a judicial determinationr that the City Public Indecency Ordinance as, in part, unconstitutionally vague.  The City has operated under its current Public Indecency Ordinance and the State Public Indecent Exposure Statute (Idaho Code  18-4116) since that time.  Because of recent events, the current proposal is submitted to City Council.  This Ordinance would require that mature females who are not in the act of breastfeeding, cover a portion of their breasts.  Reviewed by Administrative Committee July 1, 2002.  

ACTION:  Consider ordinance on first reading; or approve Ordinance under suspension of the rules requiring three complete and separate readings and that it be read by title only, and authorize the Mayor’s signature thereon; or take such other action deemed appropriate.  

City Attorney Fife explained the matter as stated above, including a brief history of a similar matter in the summer of 1998.   Fife said he was asked to draft an ordinance to deal with the public indecency issue.  This proposed ordinance requires that certain parts of a person should not be exposed to the public, which includes a portion of the pubescent female breast from the top of the areola down covering the rest of the lower hemisphere of the breast, except for people who are in the act of breastfeeding.  Such a violation would be a misdemeanor.  Based on recommendations at today’s Administrative Committee, Fife made two changes: (1) changed the title from Public Indecency to “Public Nudity,” and (2) paragraph A, line 4, to added the words “or place open to public view” after the word “public place.”    

Mayor Comstock said he would accept public testimony, and asked that such be limited to one to two minutes.  

Tom Seaman, 1547 Borah Avenue: due to gender balance on the council and other issues, requested Council to wait until Peg Hamlett returns before making a decision; and that there are enough public nuisance ordinances and that this is unnecessary.  

Christy Bentley, 221 Lauder, Apt #3: feels the wording of the ordinance implies we should be embarrassed by the human body, she is not totally for this ordinance and feels people should not be walking topless around Moscow; that it is not right that men can go topless but women can’t.  

David Camden-Britton, 317 E. Spotswood: feels the ordinance as written would outlaw cleavage, and he asks Council to consider taking this to a second reading; says there is no evidence of harm should this ordinance not be adopted.

Tanna Page, 834 N Grant: is in favor of the ordinance; people try not to offend others; that in other countries toplessness is allowed in certain areas with warning signs; this is not the case here.

Jackie Woolf, N Garfield: feels the country is a country of minorities who want to ruin it or use their rights against the majority and she is tired of that; she finds toplessness inappropriate; and if it really is a civil rights issue the women should have taken it to court; she finds the matter offensive; favors the ordinance.  

Barry Free, 2990 E. Palouse River Drive: Moscow is a family community and does not want to have to cover his children’s eyes while here; there is precedent for laws such as this: movie ratings, internet pornography, magazine pornography for those 18 and over; and the appropriate use and display of the body is more important than some individual’s right to take off their shirt in public.  

Christy Finke, 1425 Mountainview: this is a college town and we have a right to choose if we want to walk around naked or not.  

Amber Lynn Arritt, 411 N Almon #217:  finds it very disturbing that topless carwashing is legal in Moscow; that the body is not embarrassing but is private; we try to teach these values to our children; she supports the ordinance.  

Karen Lumits, 848 Panorama: owns Paradise Bridal and works with a lot of cleavage; feels the way the ordinance is written does include cleavage; favors the ordinance and does not want the vote delayed.  

Grants Nollman, 229 N Home Street: lives up the hill from where the carwash first started; is concerned that his young children has been exposed to the toplessness; that it is upsetting to him that Moscow is known as a place where women can walk around without their shirts on; loud noise, disrespectful behavior and that last week his wife was verbally assaulted by a man who lives with these women because his wife repeatedly called the police for excessive noise; (and there is now a restraining order to keep that man off Nollman’s property); and this is one example of what happens with this kind of behavior.  

Nancy Chaney, 1333 Ponderosa Drive: considers herself modest and has no compulsion to take off her shirt but is reassured that she can; this is a tolerant, accepting community and we are not trying to legislative morality; perhaps this should be more related to a zoning issue and make regulation according to profit; there is also the element of Moscow becoming a laughing stock over taking so seriously such an innocent action as toplessness; and that the weather will change things also.  

Mike Green, 498 Paradise Drive: seems ludicrous to simply say you don’t have to look when the women can walk down any street topless if there are no limits and so one would be unable to keep their children from being exposed; feels this act is wrong and he supports the ordinance.  

Mike Finkbiner, 810 S. Jefferson:  feels the ordinance is a waste of time; clothing issues should be set by the way the society deals with one another and not by a legal system; enforcement would be an issue; feels this is not a problem; shouldn’t judge people by the way they look and feels there is no harm in toplessness; some may not want to look but some may not want to look at black people or deformed people and they don’t have to; living in a pluralistic society means you have to be willing to accept some things you do not like; and wonders why we won’t be tolerant with someone wanting to mow their lawn without a shirt on.  

Doug Wilson, 1151 N Polk: he is the Pastor of Christ Church of about 850 people so he represents a number of people who are concerned about this; in a diverse community that has to tolerate everyone,  perhaps that tolerance should include conservatives, and to include not thrusting things that are offensive at other people and then telling them to deal with it; (1) women on the council during the 1998 episode felt it was offensive to women to say that they couldn’t make these decisions and that decision has now ended badly; (2) we should never argue with reality—men and women are different; (3) those who support this ordinance (as he does) are not supportive because they feel the human body is dirty or something to be ashamed of, but rather that the human body is something to be treasured and prized.  He objects to sexual vandalism, to women being treated as objects, to women being treated as commonplace, and he wants people to treat each other with dignity.  

Tom Rane, 818 Valley View: that law does legislate morality and there are numerous laws legislating sexual morality; the female breast is sexual and this ordinance is necessary and logical, and he supports the ordinance.

Cicelly Dixon, 1120 Virginia Avenue: believes that women should be able to bare their breasts in public; that it is part of the American way to make money in small and large businesses; and that women should have the freedom to become whatever they want; however, she is in favor of the ordinance; but does not see a need to bare the breasts for money making purposes and feels that is inappropriate; believes in small businesses but they should comply with the laws; believes women should have opportunity to be valued in society for their intellect and not their bodies.  

Robert Seward, 104 S Main Apt 204: he supports the ordinance; no one completely owns their own body as there are drug laws; our laws specify differences in gender as it is legally mandatory for 18-year old males to register for the selective service and is not legally mandatory for women; and that the laws does take into consideration gender differences.  

Laura Richards, 602 Panorama Drive: believes in freedom and equality but this issue becomes one of reasonableness; feels this ordinance is reasonable in expressing that some freedoms are best expressed in private; no amount of legislation is going to make the male and female body the same; and she supports the ordinance.  

Steven Litta, 544 N Jefferson: feels this is an issue that needs to be taken care of; feels this is a decisive issue on whether he stays in Moscow; this is an issue which offends a lot of people.  

Pam Palmer, 813 Kenneth Street: feels there is a problem with the ordinance as written as it does not address cleavage; believes that women can make decisions themselves regarding toplessness; that she would not personally expose herself, but that other women make that choice and live with the consequences; she also feels there is no harm done by being topless.  

Janet Peck, 224 N Home Street: made the petition of not having topless women in her neighborhood; that the people who are going topless are not homeowners, that her kitchen window looks out where the women are and it is offensive to her; that there are children in the neighborhood who should not be exposed to this; and she favors the ordinance.  

Evan Holmes, 125 N Garfield:  if the ordinance is not passed he has no problem explaining toplessness to his children and feels that is not a big problem.  

Laura Green, 498 Paradise Drive: is in favor of the ordinance and appreciates Council’s consideration in dealing with this problem; that it applies to everyone and not just children.  

Susan St. Pierre, 1717 Daves Ave:  is in favor of the ordinance and feels it is well written; the practice of toplessness is not culturally accepted; and sometimes behavior needs to be regulated; that the genders are equal but are different and toplessness is degrading.  

Cheryl Hulette, 2003 Ilene Drive: is the mother of five daughters; views topless carwashing as a form of prostitution; there are legislative laws against prostitution; and that this act should not be done in public, and she favors the ordinance.  

Amy Litta, 544 N Jefferson, Apt #6: said that although this is a college town, the college “temperature” should not be allowed to affect the community temperature, but rather the community should set the values and standards for this community and should not allow indecency to affect the community, and she fully supports the ordinance.

Kelsey Hammond, Almon Street: men can walk freely without shirts; it is not women’s fault they have breasts;  it gets hot and a lot of women go topless because they are hot; we are not selling bodies as in prostitution; and is against the ordinance.

Diane Davidson, 502 East A Street: said traffic became very dangerous due to the carwashing with people slamming on brakes to get in line, children on bicycles, men holding signs and apologizing for the traffic problem; said this is a safety issue and is in favor of the ordinance for many reasons.  

Susan Thomas, 541 N Grant Street: was shocked that women were walking around topless; is in favor of the ordinance; in addition to traffic problems, topless women could be provoking the type of people who like to prey on others.  

Kate Parker, 102½ E. Morton Street: apparently many went to the carwash so that indicates quite a few people who are in favor of toplessness.  

Peter Richards, 602 Panorama: feels the issue is community standards and we should do what we can to live up to the community standards; feels what these women are doing is against the community standards and what the general population of the city would like and an ordinance is needed.  

Ron Hatley, 1007 S. Adams Street: to his recollection, this is the second incident of women baring their breasts and that it does not appear to be something to cause alarm or a need to fix a problem, which likely does not exist.  

Ben Fortner, 225 N Home Street: clothes don’t make the person and the body doesn’t make the person; people should be allowed to show whatever they want and if people can’t look at them and see more than a pair of breasts that is their problem; the human body is art and it would be unconstitutional and ridiculous to try to put a law on art; he is not in favor of the ordinance.  

Barry Finney, 307 N Monroe: the Founding Fathers said that law and reality are inseparable; for every out of context quote there are hundreds to the contrary; morality was big in the minds of the Founding Fathers; this country was built on rights but rights protected by fulfillment of responsibility to each other, and responsibility based on morality; freedom is based on the power to do what is right and not to give us license to do what we want; he supports the ordinance.  

Ryan Brown, 102½ E. Morton Street: our Founding Fathers also believed in slavery and grew hemp and those were things supported by the government and later turned around.  

Mike Schmidt, 464 Taylor: the Constitution gives us equal protection of the laws and if this ordinance passes, that would be taken away and take away any chance in the future that there might be a tolerance toward this type of thing; slavery was tolerated a long time ago, Hitler treated Jews inferior and what we are attempting to do with this is treat women inferior; we should trust women’s choice.  

Robert Endroughty, Estes Road: has no problem with women’s breasts, likes them very much; has a lovely wife and four daughters; he teaches his daughters that their bodies are special and to be shared with their husbands, and he is saddened that these other women think so little of themselves; he supports the ordinance against indecent exposure; if we allow this, crime will increase.  

Bryce Davidson, 502 East 8th Street: favors the ordinance; women going topless cause danger to themselves; people are unique and there is a special time to show their bodies; people who do this are immature.  

Brigham Young, 2974 Highway 8 East: said civilization exists because lines are drawn and civilization prospers because of morality; these people are young and not grown-up yet and are seeking to find out who they are, which is appropriate; but as their elders, we need to provide their guidelines.

Bainbridge read the following letter into the record: 

“July 1, 2002 
Dear Council members 
I stated earlier you have more important things to be working on; this is a non-issue and will go away.  Tonight I urge you to table the public nudity ordinance instead of fast tracking.  I say this based on the point made by Pam Palmer during the committee meeting this afternoon.  A picture was shown of a women in an evening dress showing cleavage that would, under the proposed ordinance, be in violation.  Before you continue with this I urge you to consider the economic impact to the business community this ordinance may have.  This law could economically damage businesses such as WWT, Creighton’s, The Bon, and a number of other Palouse Mall merchants.  Such evening gowns are commonly worn at formal functions in this community, and are a staple trade of such stores.  Thank you. Jerry Schutz” 

Hill, in speaking for the Administrative Committee, said the Committee discussed various aspects of this proposed ordinance and accompanying state and local statutes, nuisance laws, disturbing the peace, and First Amendment rights all because there is a problem with public nudity.  Hill said council has received numerous telephone calls, letters, and e-mails.  In addition to examining civil and criminal laws, council also examined other city ordinances.    

It was moved by Hill and seconded by Mack to approve the proposed ordinance on First Reading.  

Busch said that the language of the next-to last “Whereas” on the proposed ordinance regarding a traditional bathing suit, does not have a “horizontal line” mentioned, yet the actual language of the ordinance does not refer to that “Whereas.” Fife responded that the wording of the actual ordinance does not include anything mentioned in the “Whereas” paragraphs.  Fife said the Code does not address cleavage but does address a portion of the female breasts.  Additionally, Fife said that council needs to be comfortable with the wording of the ordinance so that once passed, it will be able to be uniformly enforced by any member of law enforcement.    

Busch said he could not support the ordinance if it does not address the acceptability of cleavage.  

Hill said perhaps the language could still be modified.  In response to Hill’s question concerning punishment, Fife said that any violation of any portion of the City Code is a misdemeanor, which could result in jail and/or a fine.  

Mack said communities have expectations concerning behavior, and that this issue is obviously not going away, that there is more than a topless carwash, there was female toplessness in Friendship Square, on Main Street, and other places.  People coming into town expecting townspeople to use good taste and decorum, would run into this situation; therefore the ordinance is necessary.  Mack said she feels there should be greater specificity so as not to invite selective enforcement due to the cleavage issue, and does support the first reading.  

Thomason said he was prepared to vote tonight for passage of this ordinance; but feels first reading is just as good an option; and that he too has received numerous calls and letters; that his calls are estimated at ten to one in favor of passing an ordinance now.  

Guyer added his agreement with Thomason on the idea of passing this ordinance tonight; he feels that all laws are enforced at the officer’s discretion and prosecuted at the prosecutor’s discretion; and that the laws should be precise enough to give law enforcement direction concerning enforcement of the ordinance.  Guyer said by postponing finality council is allowing the act to continue until this matter is finally deliberated on.  Guyer added that passing this ordinance tonight would eliminate the harm being passed on to the community, and council would still have the discretion to amend the ordinance at any other time.

Mayor Comstock said he agrees with Guyer and would like to deal with this issue tonight, although he will not be voting.    

Roll Call Vote:  Ayes: Mack, Busch, Hill.   Nays: Guyer, Thomason.  Motion carried.  Mayor Comstock read the ordinance for a first reading, by title only.


Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)
Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

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