War On Fun: SFPD Chief Says That Nudity’s “Not Okay” At Bay To Breakers This Year

Safety will be the focus of this year’s Bay to Breakers race, according to city leaders who spoke about preparations for Sunday’s race from the steps of City Hall today.

“We want it to be fun, but we also want it to be safe,” said San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White.

This year’s race, which kicks off at 8 a.m. Sunday and covers 7.46 miles from The Embarcadero to Ocean Beach, will have 20 percent more private security on site and support from at least eight outside law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard and the FBI.

“We’ve seen years where it wasn’t as safe as it could be,” Mayor Ed Lee said.

Police arrested 21 people for public intoxication at last year’s Bay to Breakers race, as well as one person for possession of a firearm and one person for robbery.

There were also two deaths associated with 2013’s Bay to Breakers. David Hamzeh, 28, fell three stories to his death after the race from the roof of a party on Fell Street along the Panhandle, while Beau Rasmussen, 27, was never found after going into the water in Ocean Beach after walking the race.

“Public safety is one of my biggest priorities,” said Supervisor London Breed. “I want everyone to be responsible.”

Police will continue to enforce a no-alcohol policy at this year’s race. There will be four funnel points, up from three last year, where the race path narrows so police can scan for alcoholic containers, according to San Francisco police Chief Greg Suhr.

Suhr said heightened security is partially in response to the Boston Marathon bombing of 2013. He urged race participants and spectators to report suspicious activity and unattended bags.

No bags larger than 8.5 inches by 11 inches by 4 inches will be permitted at the race, Suhr said. There will also be a ban on wheeled objects, including strollers and skateboards.

This is the first year the Wasserman Media Group has taken ownership of the race, which will feature an estimated 40,000 runners and 100,000 spectators.

Mayor Lee called the Bay to Breakers race, now in its 103rd year, “iconic,” saying it highlights the “kookiness” of San Francisco.

Racers and spectators are known for running in costumes and sometimes wearing nothing at all.

“Bay to Breakers is one of the most fun, exciting races around,” Breed said.

Wasserman Media Group has partnered with the local anti-poverty organization Tipping Point Community, which will receive a portion of the registration fees.

To increase public cleanliness, there will be nearly 25 percent more portable toilets at this year’s race, more than 1,000 in all, according to Clare Bergman with the Wasserman Media Group.

The southern portion of Alamo Square will be closed in response to neighbors’ previous complaints about public urination and rowdiness, Suhr said.

BART will open early on race day, with trains starting to run around 6 a.m. Sunday.

City officials seemed split on their approach to nudity at the race, with Suhr flatly stating it is “not okay.”

“I’m the rules guy,” he said.

But Supervisor Katy Tang focused on practical concerns, saying “If you are planning to come unclothed, don’t forget to wear your sunscreen.”

Breed issued a more pointed suggestion.

“All the folks with the nice six-packs, come out naked,” she said.

Drew Himmelstein, Bay City News

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  • sforick

    Welcome to the New San Francisco

    • Justizin

      right, because SFPD has never declared all fun outlawed at bay to breakers before, esp not last year, and the year before, and the year before that, and the year before ..

  • mz

    What a sad joke. People behaving violently or throwing glass bottles is what causes problems, not naked people or someone enjoying a beer.

  • RBR

    Book burning can’t be far behind.

  • BTinSF

    Why should the question of nudity be up to the Police Chief? He doesn’t make the laws, he just enforces them. SF now has a “nudity ordinance” which I thought allowed for it at street fairs and other public events into which I’m pretty sure the BtoB would fit.

    • Justizin

      it doesn’t matter, every year they declare a bunch of stuff no longer allowed at bay to breakers. has any of it ever been “permitted”?

  • Justizin

    “All the folks with the nice six-packs, come out naked,” she said.

    this is a confusing mixed signal. nudity only with alcohol? and who’s to judge my choice of libations?!

  • sfsoma

    Just close it down already.

  • HappyHighwayman

    I can see no reason to ban nudity other than religious ones (nudity/sex is bad, I don’t want my children to know how sex works, blah blah blah), or aesthetic (I shouldn’t have to see unfit naked people). Hygiene issues can be addressed, but I’ve never heard a single good argument as to why we must be forced to wear clothing in public.

  • Naked Runner

    I will be running it naked and hope for the best despite the mixed signals, ughhh

  • Naked Runner

    Hell with the police chief, he does not get to arbitrarily write a completely different law than what the council passed that specifically exempts events like this.

    I am running it naked baby!

  • Naked Runner

    When did SF become Orange County or freaking Iowa? What happened to the liberal, fun, wide open city of SF by some conservative elements trying to make it like a 50’s Disney movie?

    The police presence was so over the top, closing down the park at the top of Hayes Hill, event organizers closing down the whole thing surprisingly fast, pouring out drinks and at least the first half hassling the tradition of nude runners every year since 1978.

    The last two years you can feel the negative vibe and “white breading” of Bay to Breakers and even the anti nudity city council close votes, this over the top police chief not even following the law which was set up to exempt events like this, what happened to SF? If it becomes just another cookie cutter boring, same as, event like in Anywhere USA, such a shame.

    The people attending of course are always awesome, but the police chief and conservative elements are ruining SF, ughhh