Public nudist stirs controversy in Ashland

The man who has been strolling around Ashland in the buff for the past month has caused some locals to call for a ban on nudity and led others to applaud the man's actions.

The man, a visitor from the Bay Area in his 70s, is not breaking any laws, police say.

Some Ashlanders — after witnessing or reading about the man's escapades — think it's time to change that. The fact that the man was spotted near Walker Elementary School late last month as children were walking home from school has concerned some parents and other community members.

"I think we have a responsibility to our children, and that should supersede this man's right to walk around without clothing," said Kaaren Anderson, who is 64 and raised two sons.

Other residents support the man's actions and say people should have the right to be nude in public in Ashland.

"I'm in support of him," said Leland Fulton, a 23-year-old Southern Oregon University student. "I'm totally down with that. It's kind of an inspiration, really."

Oregon does not have any laws restricting nudity, but the city requires people to cover their genitals in the downtown area and in public parks.

Ashland is no stranger to nudists. Last summer "the naked lady," Jennifer Moss, created a stir when she paraded around downtown wearing only a hemp G-string — and less elsewhere in the city.

In 2004, after a group of residents and City Councilors tried to pass a nudity ban, 30 people protested outside the Council Chambers by playing croquet — naked. One of the men who participated in that demonstration, Eric Navickas, is now a City Councilor.

Navickas said he wouldn't support a nudity ban.

"We're a community that has a long tradition of protecting people's civil liberties and protecting people's rights to speak out," he said. "And I don't think it's a good idea to try to limit those rights."

After receiving some complaints about the naked man and Ashland's stance on nudity, Mayor John Stromberg wrote in his State of the City blog Monday that he thinks the council should focus on more important issues first, such as the city's budget.

"I don't know how we'll deal with this year's nudity," he wrote. "I'll just be grateful if we keep it in proportion to our really important tasks."

City Councilor Russ Silbiger said he understands the concerns some community members have about nudity near schools and might consider discussing the matter with other councilors at a future meeting.

"I think even in Ashland, in a school zone is pushing the limits of this too far," he said.

Hoping to avoid another round of naked croquet, Silbiger has a plan if he does decide to bring the matter to the council.

"I'm thinking January," he said. "That way the protestors will have to give it a second thought."

Contact staff writer Hannah Guzik at 482-3456 ext. 226 or

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