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New Businesses Eager To Ink Contracts
Downtown Riverbank is currently the destination for two tattoo shops and there are a few others that are awaiting a business license approval from the city. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Tattoo shop business license applications have caused quite a stir in the City of Riverbank recently, with four requests hitting the City Manager’s desk within a two week period.

With several requests to consider City Manager Jill Anderson started looking into the city’s codes regarding the regulations of a tattoo shop and shops similar.

“The code didn’t say much and that raised some concern for me because whether it is a tattoo shop or any other kind of shop, once a business is in place they have a right to operate that business and if we don’t set criteria up for that operation and if something should go bad down the line, we don’t have a way of holding somebody accountable,” explained Anderson.

To give the city time to look into the regulations and codes, Anderson added an agenda item for the council to consider, and ‘urgency ordinance’ calling for a “Temporary Moratorium on the Establishment and Operation of New Tattoo Establishments” for a 45-day period. The time would allow for study of zoning regulations that are needed before the council would consider adding more businesses of that type.

Council members approved the temporary 45 day moratorium but also made two exceptions to this waiting period for two tattoo shops that were already in the application process prior to this request.

Sin Cal Industries had a request with the city to relocate the business from Crossroads shopping center to downtown Riverbank. Sin Cal already has a business license and has been operating since 2010 in the tattoo and body piercing industry.

Soul Patch Tattoo had a business license application in progress prior to the other business license requests so the city council has made an exception for that firm as well.

“There are certain things that have to be in place before we will issue a business license,” added Anderson. “So if we can come to an agreement then staff would have the ability to approve that business license, if we can establish the criteria.”

The business exists in downtown Riverbank but is not operating at this current time.

“They (Soul Patch) are waiting on their business license at this point and he is a new business owner so they can get a little ambitious but he has been really cooperative with the city,” said Anderson. “I give him a lot of credit.”

To describe the situation, Anderson explained that if there was a problem in her backyard with her dog she could deal with it in a number of ways like obedience training, put the dog in the garage, or possibly get rid of it, but if it is the neighbor’s dog, she has no control over it.

“So with some of the things that we are talking about like the planning that the city has control over, when it is a problem we can go fix it because we control it,” said Anderson. “But for a business they have a right to operate their business and therefore it is more difficult (to address any problems that might arise) unless you have black and white criteria that you have in writing.”

The temporary 45-day moratorium will allow the city time to evaluate what needs to be done to approve the business licenses.

“This is a temporary moratorium essentially it is a ‘time out’ where we are just putting a few things on hold for a little while,” added Anderson. “We have never thought about banning them at all, that is not what we are trying to do.

“This is something that while we are talking about tattoo shops now it’s not an issue just related to tattoo shops it is related to the fact that our code is very old.”

According to Anderson they do not want to over regulate the shops which are already regulated by health and safety departments. However, they will be looking at things that may impact neighbors, like hours of operation, crowd control, and loitering.

“I really respect how well they (the public) engaged in the discussion on this and everybody was very respectful, everybody was very understanding of the issues facing the city and I just really appreciated how the public discourse took place and I think that just says a lot about our community,” Anderson said. “We want it to be a great city, a safe city and a city that we can all be proud of.”

Anderson added that there were several news entities that had coverage of this issue and there were multiple concerns from the public regarding the tattoo shops and potential moratorium.

“The coverage of this has been very fair,” stated Anderson. “I am very pleased with the coverage and I am very happy that we came up with what I think is a workable solution and I think that the tattoo shops’ representatives thought it was a workable solution as well.”