Tattoo shop not allowed in downtown redevelopment zone

OCEANSIDE — Despite the support of the Downtown Advisory Committee, MainStreet Oceanside and Oceanside Chamber of Commerce, City Council denied a conditional use permit and location waiver to allow Oceanside Tattoo and Museum to open in downtown Artists Alley on April 22.

City Council voted 3-2 to deny the permit and waiver that would make the tattoo shop the 13th business with a conditional use permit within 1,000 feet. Five bars, three liquor stores and four spas offering massages operate nearby.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez and Councilman Jack Feller said it was the wrong type of business for the redevelopment area. Mayor Jim Wood stated he was uncomfortable approving the business.

The three were not persuaded by testimony from Attorney Marco Gonzalez, who said the shop would be modern, clean, have limited evening business hours and provide artisan services.

“You have to crawl out of that shell that tattooing represents blight,” Gonzalez said.

Sanchez said no sales tax would be generated by the service business, which hires private contractors.

“Millions of dollars were spent to change what was there,” Sanchez said. “The criteria set was for higher end visitor-serving businesses that would generate revenue.”

Feller took an ethical stand against the business.

“I don’t get the idea of even having a tattoo,” Feller said. “I don’t think it’s a fit for our ideals. It’s not my idea of a vibrant downtown.”

Councilmen Jerry Kern and Chuck Lowery supported the tattoo shop. Lowery said it was a plus to have a vacant downtown business space filled.

Kern said he “likes the idea of body art.” He added shop employees and patrons would likely be buying lunch and dinner downtown.

Applicants Jason and Melissa Betz currently own two tattoo shops in Oceanside. Their business Body Temple Tattoo on Mission Avenue would be closed if the downtown location were granted, in following with city regulations that allow a maximum of three tattoo shops in the city.

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