Happy Valley declares end to nude gardening
Rights - The City Council responds to neighbors' complaints with a tentative nudity ordinance
Thursday, October 04, 2007
The nude gardener of Happy Valley should at least put on underwear.
That's what the City Council decided this week in tentatively approving an ordinance that makes it "unlawful for any person to expose his or her genitals while in a public place or place visible from a public place."
If formally approved later this month, the law will apply when children younger than 13 are around or when "the exposure reasonably would be expected to alarm or annoy another person."
Violations carry a $1,000 fine per exposure.
The issue arose when neighbors complained that Steven J. Howatt, 51, refused to put on clothes while gardening, mowing his lawn or walking around his property. A mail carrier also asked to changed routes.
Howatt, who didn't attend the council meeting, said the controversy says more about neighborliness than nudity.
If someone had spoken to him nicely, he said, he probably would have put on some clothes. Instead, one neighbor yelled profanities at him and others complained to his employer, the police, the media and the city, he said. "I'm disappointed we couldn't work out something."
A few Happy Valley residents wrote to the council in support of Howatt. "I hate to see more of our rights taken away because a few people are uncomfortable," said one e-mail.
Mayor Rob Wheeler said the nudity ordinance has attracted statewide attention. "In my seven years with the city," he said, "I've never seen people or the media so interested in what we're doing."
Peter Zuckerman: 503-294-5919; firstname.lastname@example.org
©2007 The Oregonian