Tattoo shop denied, owner pursues legal action

Tattoo shop denied, owner pursues legal action
Oceanside objects to the location of Power Tattoo shop next to homes and children’s classes. The city provided 879 alternative locations for the shop. Photo by Promise Yee

OCEANSIDE — City Council gave the final no Aug. 10 to Power Tattoo shop opening at 603 Vista Way, but the owner’s fight to open his business is not over.

There are ongoing litigations between shop owner Chris Yvon and the city since the Planning Commission denied his business application in June.

Yvon filed a suit in federal court in July alleging sections of the city’s zoning ordinance violate the First Amendment.

He also requested a temporary restraining order to prevent the city from applying the ordinance to his business, which was denied.

The city is waiting on a preliminary injunction, which is expected soon.

“At this point any action taken against the city is First Amendment rights by the tattoo shop,” City Attorney John Mullen said.

Yvon has held a long-term lease at the address since January. The shop looks ready to start business, but also appears that it is not regularly open. Framed tattoo designs are hung on the walls, and dated mail sits on the floor beyond the front door mail slot.

Last week Yvon was cited by the city for one account of operations without a business license, which could carry a fine and criminal penalty.

“He is not legally allowed to operate,” Mullen said.

The city objects to the tattoo shop opening at its present location, which is next to a children’s art studio, across the street from a children’s dance studio and within 200 feet of 20 nearby homes.

Homeowners were outspoken in opposing the business at the June planning meeting where it was denied.

City staff reported at last week’s council meeting that Oceanside police confirmed there are nearly seven times as many police calls for city tattoo establishments than there are for other business at the proposed address.

Staff also said police confirmed Yvon’s business in Vista is associated with the Hells Angels motorcycle club, which has a documented history of criminal activity.

Together these findings strongly support a residential buffer.

“People are concerned with this,” Deputy Mayor Chuck Lowery said.

“Neighbors are complaining,” Mayor Jim Wood said. “It’s not compatible for the residential neighborhood.”

Linda Watkins, business owner of the adjacent ART adventure Studio, said she understands tattoos are art, and has no personal objections to the business, but a survey of her students found a majority of them had concerns.

“It definitely affects my business,” Watkins said.

Councilwoman Esther Sanchez pointed out the high concentration of regulated-use businesses in the area.

“There are four other adult businesses within 1,000 feet, it’s inconsistent with the Coast Vision Plan,” Sanchez said.

The city provided 879 alternative business addresses, chiefly in industrial zones, which have a suitable buffer zone from schools and residences.

Neither Yvon nor his attorney spoke at last week’s council meeting.

Oceanside has four approved tattoo shops.

The newest was approved for 604 Mission Avenue in November 2015, and is in the process of completing renovations before it opens.

Mullen said allowance is a matter of reasonable time, place and manner of business operations.

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