Twenty-six-year-old Vicki Lussier used to have reservations about going to Black's Beach. "I thought there might be some people there who were kind of weired," she said.
But she said she found out differently.
"No one approached me," she marveled, following her first visit. "Everyone seems to mind their own business. It's not a sexual type beach, even though people are nude. It's like nobody really notices."
But there were many here who did notice Black's - the country's only municipal nude beach - and believed it was an eyesore, a place that attracted undesirables and spawned crime. They pressured the city council to do something about it.Their complaint caused police to form a "bikini patrol," a cadre of scantily clad officers who roamed the sand.
On Tuesday, Black's opponents prevailed. A hotly contested proposal to end nudity at the beach passed by more than 15,000 votes in a primary election here; 86,113 people voted for the nudity ban and 70,884 voted against it.
Yesterday, the beach was virtually empty, but it wasn't the vote that kept people away; it was the weather. The 900-foot stretch of sand - parked under a cliff in La Jolla - was engulfed by fog. At midday only about 100 bathers had gathered there sans clothing. A sunny day normally brings about 5,000 to the beach - one of San Diego's top tourist attractions - and as many as 43,000 are there on a holiday.
But the limited trying to drum up cash to pay committee debts and keep operations going this winter because, according to David Irving, treasurer of the committee, the verdict at the polls Tuesday was not definitive. "There will still be a lot of political maneuvering," he said.
He noted that the referendum was an advisory measure and not legally binding on the city council, which originally established Black's Beach in 1974. To make yesterday's vote stick, the council must rescind its earlier action by amending the municipal code.
Irving said members of his group plan to lobby councilmembers heavily in coming days, trying to convince them Black's should remain a nude beach.But he admitted the effort may be in vain.
"The council is under the gun because of the election in November," he said, adding that it would be tantamount to "political suicide" for the council to go against the will of the electorate.
Stanwood Johnsons, chairman of the Save Our Beaches Committee that fought nude bathing, was quoted as saying that now that "the peopld of San Diego have spoken, it's up to the city council to act."
Johnson described the outcome as an upset, and many residents, including some owners of the $200,000-$300,000 homes that overlook the beach, expressed surprise at the vote. The beach borders tha campus of the University of California at San Diego and the Salk Institute in posh La Jolla.
If the council does amend the municipal code to prohibit nude bathing, Irving said the Nude Beaches Committee will sue the city to enjoin enforcement of the ordinance. A council vote is expected in two to four weeks.
Irving blamed the outcome of the election on a poor turnout among the young. "Young people tend to be apolitical," he said. "A lot of the younger generation feel dissociated with what's a going on politically." Those who voted against the nude beach Irving called "moralists with an emotional revulsion to nudity."
Irving also thinks the city will be unable to enforce the nudity ban.
"The only way to eliminate nudity will be to station police here around the clock," he said. "There's just more and more people going nude every day around the country, we've got a social change here. When people are ready to go nude, no law is going to stop it."