BY CINDY CARCAMO / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Nudists banned from San Onofre's Trail 6 say they're being harassed by state park rangers as they try to find new spots to sunbathe in the buff Ė including a beach at Camp Pendleton.
It's been nearly two years since the state won a legal battle to ban nudity at Trail 6, a favorite nude sunbathing spot for decades. However, some of the nudists aren't complying with the ban. Instead, they're pushing back, sunbathing in the nude in the state park and trespassing on an abutting beach on Camp Pendleton.
A man from Los Angeles strolls along San Onofre State Beach wearing nothing but running shoes in this 2008 file photo. Nudists banned from San Onofre's Trail 6 say they're being harassed by state park rangers as they try to find new spots to sunbathe in the buff, including a beach at Camp Pendleton.
While there is no federal law banning nudity on the military base, it's against the law to trespass without authorization.
Nudists say state officials are increasingly following them on to federal land and spying on them, telling them to put on their clothes and leave.
"You have rangers hiding within rocks, in trees, with cameras trying to take pictures," San Clemente resident John Squicciarini said. "This is more than childish. This is harassment."
State officials dispute the allegations and say they're just enforcing an anti-nudity law, citing those who are breaking the law.
"The naturists are mischaracterizing this as usual," said Rich Haydon, acting district superintendent for an area that includes San Clemente, Doheny, San Onofre, Bolsa Chica and Crystal Cove state beaches.
The nudists also claim that state rangers have orchestrated an effort to get rid of the group in the San Onofre area by recruiting military officials from Camp Pendleton to aid in the crackdown.
The most recent altercation occurred July 17 when Camp Pendleton officials called state rangers for help clear their beach of some nude sunbathers, according to Haydon
Andy Pollock, a 63-year-old naturist and San Clemente resident, said a Marine grabbed his camera and deleted video footage of the incident.
While state and Camp Pendleton officials provide mutual aid to each other from time to time, officials say there isn't a formal agreement between the two agencies.
Allen Baylis, a Huntington Beach attorney who spearheaded the unsuccessful legal fight to keep Trail 6 a clothing-optional beach, said the Naturist Action Committee doesn't condone naturists trespassing into Camp Pendleton.
However, he said he understands that many feel they've been pushed to beaches on the federal side to avoid the state rangers.
"We agree that the people shouldn't be going down to the Marine base if people don't want them there and that's fine," Baylis said. "But as patriotic Americans, when the government does something we don't like we have a duty to push back. That goes right to the Declaration of Independence ... the redress of grievances, and that's why we are pushing back."
Baylis and other naturists say the state rangers are also crossing into federal land.
"The parks department has on a regular basis gone down to the Marine base and spent a lot of time down there, outside of their jurisdiction,'' Baylis said. "I think it shows the extent of their contempt for naturists."
Baylis said state officials don't have jurisdiction to tell nude sunbathers to put on their clothes on federal land, especially since it's not a crime to be nude on the base.
Haydon said state officials don't tell the sunbathers to put on their clothes on federal land. Instead, he said, rangers cross over to federal land on occasion to tell people they are trespassing and should return to the state side with their clothes on, he said.
Marine officials said they're OK with state officials doing that, as well.
However, some nudists are saying the state rangers are taking it a step further at Camp Pendleton
Squicciarini, a naturist, said he has seen rangers on the Camp Pendleton side of the beach spying on nudists with binoculars from cliffs and hiding in bushes, snapping photos
"We're talking about a state department with money problems and you have rangers wasting their time going all the way down there and harassing people?" Squicciarini said.
Haydon said the naturists' allegations about photos and rangers telling people to put on clothes on federal land aren't true.
Camp Pendleton officials say they don't care whether the naturists are clothed or nude. The fact is that they're not supposed to be on the land, said spokesman Lt. Ryan Welsh.
"It's still trespassing, regardless of what they're doing. It's illegal to cross over without prior authorization," he said.