Council Plunges Into Swimsuit Issue By MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writer

Friday, February 21, 1997

New Yorkers yearning to breathe free and stroll the city’s streets in bathing suits can take heart it may soon be legal.

As part of a legal spring cleaning, the City Council is eying repeal of outdated taboos in the city administrative code, including the bathing suit ban.

“We obviously don’t want anyone to be arrested for walking around in their bathing suit,” Council Speaker Peter Vallone (D-Queens) said. “Although it may not be proper attire, it shouldn’t put you in prison.”

Nonetheless, Chapter 1, Section 10 of the administrative code stipulates that it is “unlawful” to wear a bathing suit on the street unless you are near a city park or beach.

Anyone found guilty of wearing a bathing suit without covering their torso from shoulders to midthigh faces a $ 10 fine, up to 10 days in jail, or both.

Although the Police Department crackdown on quality-of-life offenses has not targeted alleged swimsuit violators, Vallone said the Council wants to take the law off the books, just in case. Besides, other city rules already cover most common-sense bathing suit no-nos.

“You couldn’t walk into a restaurant and ask to be served,” Vallone said. “That would be a violation of the health code. That could also be covered under the indecent exposure law.”

Also up for possible repeal are three outdated city laws that govern medical services. They include a misdemeanor penalty for anyone found guilty of improperly transferring medical records from a defunct medical facility to another agency.

The Council is also expected to abolish the penalty for anyone convicted of placing an incorrect street number on his or her building. Offenders instead would be charged with a civil violation punishable by a $ 25 fine that increases by $ 5 per day if the sign isn’t corrected.

The Governmental Operations Committee has scheduled a hearing on the changes next week. If approved, as expected, the revisions would take effect by summer. The changes are part of an ongoing effort to weed out archaic laws that may have made sense in an earlier age, but don’t necessarily apply to the 1990s.

For instance, the Council is now hard at work researching a law that prohibits public bathing. That prohibition that may join the scrap heap along with previously repealed laws that barred women from baring their navels in public and barbers from using “powder puffs or neck dusters” on customers.