Following much deliberation and feedback from concerned residents Tuesday night, the voted 4-1 to consider recommending that the Hermosa Beach City Council adopt buffer zones and limit operating hours for tattoo parlors in town.
Commissioners begun brainstorming ways to make it tougher for someone to get inked up after the council to conduct a public hearing and consider whether any changes to the city's existing tattoo ordinance are appropriate and constitutional.
City staffers now are to draft a resolution that will require tattoo businesses to:
- Not be within a 100-foot buffer zone around residential property;
- Not be within a 200-foot buffer zone around parks, schools and religious facilities;
- Operate between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.
The issue of body piercing was proposed not to be included in tattoo policy, the panel also decided.
Community Development Director Ken Robertson warned commissioners that proposing restrictive measures on tattoo businesses would be difficult, as the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last year that tattoos and the business of tattooing are forms of expression protected by the First Amendment.
The court decision stemmed from a lawsuit that local tattoo artist Johnny Anderson brought against the city three years ago for denying him a permit to open a tattoo studio in town. At the time, municipal code prohibited tattoo studios from operating within city limits.
The lawsuit made its way to the 9th Circuit Court, where a three-judge panel ruled that the city's ban was unconstitutional.
"But what about the constitutional rights for the people?" asked Commissioner Ron Pizer on Tuesday night, referring to residents who have expressed concern about tattoo studios opening near their homes.
"Say 70 percent of the community doesn’t want this. … What can the community do realistically?" Pizer asked. "I don’t see anything coming up for the people. That’s the thing that bothers me."
Some residents at the public hearing applauded Pizer. Many addressed the commission with concerns that a proliferation of tattoo parlors in town will hurt property values.
"I think that you don’t have to be a brain surgeon to figure out your property values are going to go down if you’re next to a tattoo parlor," reponded commissioner Kent Allen.
Other residents argued that tattoo studios could affect the aesthetic of the community and even pose health risks.
When the Planning Commission discussed in 2007 allowing tattoo studios to open locally, Commissioner Sam Perrotti said that he voted in support of an ordinance because he thought it would be better for the public's health than the alleged "underground tattooing" that was happening in the city.
"I thought it was worth it to at least make it legal so the youth of the community could go somewhere safe," he said.
Now that tattooing businesses are legal in the city, the commission will revisit the proposed zoning and operating hours regulations at its next meeting May 17, and they will be recommended to the City Council.
Earlier coverage of the Anderson vs. City of Hermosa Beach lawsuit, and City Council decisions on tattoo policy, on Hermosa Beach Patch: