By Gary Walker
Venice Beach, already well-known for its international flavor and laid-back vibe, could soon add topless sunbathing for women if a resolution by the Venice Neighborhood Council gains traction.
The board voted 12-2 with two abstentions last night to support adding a “European flavor” to the beach by allowing women to go topless.
“Topless bathing is commonplace throughout Europe, much of the rest of the world and many places within the U.S.,” the council motion stated.
Yolanda Gonzalez said that as a younger woman she sunbathed nude in Europe. While she questioned why most Americans are “morbid” abut nudity, Gonzalez, who is originally from Mexico, is not in favor of topless sunbathing at Venice Beach.
“We’re not ready for it,” she said.
Topless sunbathing was framed as a gender equality issue by some members of the board, including president emeritus Linda Lucks, who said women often sunbathed without tops at Venice Beach when she arrived at the beachside community more than 40 years ago.
After a photographer snapped and later distributed photos of women sunbathing topless, “you could not get to the water,” Lucks recalled, adding that she thought allowing men to go topless but not women was “sexist.”
The Los Angeles City Council would have to approve any new ordinance that would allow women to sunbath nude in Venice. Los Angeles County representatives could weigh in as well, as Venice Beach is patrolled by Los Angeles County lifeguards.
Lucks said topless sunbathing would have to be implemented on a wider scale for the council’s motion to gain any traction.
“I think it would have to be citywide, not just in Venice,” she said.
Dede Audet, who like Lucks is a former Venice Neighborhood Council president, approached the issue with sincere caution and a little bit of humor.
“We don’t want to see the kind of shenanigans that we saw on the Gulf Coast earlier this year,” she said, referring to the alleged rape of a woman during spring break in Panama City, Fla., earlier this month. “But we could have many government employees that will be asking to trade duty cycles for beach duty.”