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City Ordinances Restricting Tattoo Parlors

Cities from time to time make significant efforts to tailor their city’s ordinances to create a local community that develops in a way that the local legislature desires. Local governments use its “police power” to create laws that promote the general health, safety, and welfare of its citizens. A common target of these ordinances are tattoo parlors. One city in California, Oceanside, is rethinking its restriction in having a limit of only three tattoo parlors within city limits. Whereas the city of San Marcos, California was thinking this year of banning all tattoo parlors in the area.

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Oceanside city counsel will be reconsidering in these upcoming months to open the competition of tattoo parlors in the city. This local legislation has limited the City of Oceanside to only three tattoo parlors and has resulted in daily requests of prospective tattoo owners to open up shop. Oceanside is not the only city reconsidering its laws relating to this once taboo industry. The town of Menifee, California is thinking of changing its 1000 feet restriction from schools, churches, playgrounds and parks to 500 feet.

How do City Ordinances Work?

A city ordinance is a type of law, rule, or regulation made by a city government that is intended to address issues of local concern. Most city ordinances are enacted by a city council when enacted becomes part of the municipal code. City ordinances must relate somehow to protecting the public health, safety, and welfare of the city’s citizens. In doing so, they can either prohibit or proscribe a certain type of behavior.


In the case of tattoo parlors, cities often use zoning regulations. Cities use zoning to control the layout and development of a city. Navigating local permits, zoning, and ordinances for your business may be challenging in some cities with less infrastructure, so opening a business such as a tattoo parlor does require some significant leg work to determine proper filings and permission.

Nasir Pasha, Esq.

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Managing attorney and co-host of podcast Legally Sound | Smart Business

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