Committee gives OK to new tattoo shop in Oceanside

OCEANSIDE — The Downtown Advisory Committee unanimously recommended a conditional use permit for a tattoo shop and museum in downtown Oceanside, giving the go ahead to make it the 13th regulated use business.

Oceanside limits tattoo shops, bars, massage parlors, and other regulated use businesses to one per 1,000 feet in the downtown area.

Currently there are 12 such businesses within a 1,000 feet radius of the proposed tattoo shop. Five bars, three liquor stores, and four spas offering massages operate nearby.

Committee member Rick Wright discussed past problems with bars, strip clubs and pawnshops that incited the requirement for conditional use permits for all but pawnshops.

“The knee jerk reaction is we’re not going back there,” Wright said. “The ‘70s and ‘80s wiped out downtown. We scrapped four square blocks with eminent domain.”

Wright added times have changed in Oceanside, redevelopment is in full swing, and tattoo shops are now looked upon more favorably.

Wright said tattoo businesses are now drawing mainstream patrons.

“Now it’s girls staying at the Wyndham getting a tattoo as part of their coming to California coming of age process,” Wright said.

Attorney Marco Gonzalez, who represents the shop owners, said the business and museum would generate tourism downtown. Gonzalez added tattooing is an art, and pointed out the Oceanside Museum of Art holds an annual tattoo body art show.

Gonzalez also told the committee tattooing is a highly regulated and safe industry.

Committee member Robert Neal said the “curmudgeon” in him still questions if tattoo shops are the right type of business for downtown, but overall he is impressed by the owners’ business plan.

Neal added the tattoo shop and museum would fit in with downtown redevelopment and new microbreweries.

Tattoo artist Jason Betz and his wife Melissa Betz own two tattoo shops in Oceanside and one in Vista.  Oceanside Chamber of Commerce and MainStreet Oceanside, which Wright serves as executive director, wrote support letters for the Betz’s new business at 212 N. Coast Highway.

Committee member Ward O’Doherty commended the Bentz’s for their good business record in Oceanside and said the owners are in the desired age 40 demographics the city is looking towards to open businesses.

A condition of opening Oceanside Tattoo is that the owners close their shop, Body Temple Tattoo on Mission Avenue, to stay within the cap of three tattoo shops allowed citywide.

Jason Betz described the proposed shop as having seven private stations, and a lobby museum where tattoo art and instruments are displayed.

The business will move into a space that is now empty, and improvements will be made to the building facade.

The lease agreement for is for 25 years. Seven to 10 employees will work at the shop.

The City Council will vote on approval of the conditional use permit at an upcoming meeting.

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