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Originally published July 6, 2010 at 8:18 PM | Page modified July 6, 2010 at 8:18 PM

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Seattle officials chilly toward nude beach

Should Seattle have a nude beach? Supporters keep trying to convince reluctant city officials.

Seattle Times staff reporter

Nudists got a meeting with Seattle parks officials Tuesday, but the idea of a nude beach may not have legs.

Proponents of a sanctioned nude beach sat down with acting Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams to try to advance the possibility.

The meeting, according to boosters, is another sign the idea is gaining momentum, after winning some 2,000 votes on Mayor Mike McGinn's Ideas for Seattle website. A nude beach was third behind legalizing marijuana and expanding light rail.

"We've been trying to get a good meeting for about two years, and I think we got one today," said Mark Storey, a spokesman for a group of skinny dippers and nudist clubs that want a designated beach.

Parks Department spokeswoman Dewey Potter said Williams won't act until he sees the idea has more community and political support.

In 2008, the parks board of commissioners asked the department to look into a clothing-optional beach in Seattle.

But when a nude-beach supporter asked for an update at the board's May 13 meeting, Williams said a clothing-optional beach is not part of the department's focus, according to the meeting minutes.

So far, the idea of a beach is not catching on among elected leaders. A spokesman for the mayor did not return calls seeking comment.

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who leads the council's parks committee, said the idea is not a priority. "I'm not going to spend any time on this," she said.

Public nudity is only illegal in Washington state if it causes "reasonable affront or alarm."

Daniel Johnson, who supports a nude beach, said nudists use some unofficial sites in Seattle — at Magnuson Park and Discovery Park and at the so-called "Secret Beach" on Lake Washington. But people using those beaches are occasionally asked by police to cover up, Johnson said.

Storey said he was encouraged by Tuesday's meeting, which he said was "the beginning of some kind of intellectual conversation."

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He's happy to get back to Williams with a better showing of community support and some specifics about where a nude beach could go.

"He can't just say yes to every nut case that comes up to him," Storey said.

Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report.

Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or eheffter@seattletimes.com

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