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Pismo City Council moves to further regulate tattoo and massage parlors 

At a meeting on Oct. 1, Pismo Beach City Council unanimously voted to introduce ordinances that would enhance the city's ability to regulate specific kinds of businesses, including massage places, tattoo parlors, pawn shops, resale stores, and smoke shops, among others.

Mayor Ed Waage said the ordinances are part of larger effort to make downtown Pismo an attractive and fun place for both tourists and residents.

"We're trying to improve the downtown," he told New Times, adding that along with the potential regulation changes, the city is working to spruce up its storefronts, remodel the pier's plaza and bathrooms, and add more public art.

Part of that means ensuring that there aren't too many of one kind of business overpopulating the city's core, Waage said.

Some community members have long been concerned about the city's inability to control what kinds of businesses take over core downtown storefronts, according to Waage. In December 2017, Pismo City Council adopted an urgency ordinance prohibiting the approval, expansion, or relocation of any new or existing "personal services" businesses: tattoo parlors, massage establishments, pawn shops, resale shops, smoke shops, check cashing stores, payday loan businesses, bail bondsmen, gold and silver exchange stores, tire repair shops, and blood and plasma sale centers.

In January and November 2018, the urgency ordinance was extended to give the city more time to study the situation, according to a city staff report. The urgency ordinance expires on Dec. 4 of this year and cannot be extended again.

The recently proposed permanent ordinances would ensure that the listed "personal services" businesses are separated from other businesses offering similar services by a minimum of 1,000 feet, and would require some of the businesses to adhere to special performance standards and obtain conditional use permits from the city.

If passed, it would essentially mean that downtown Pismo Beach could hold no more than six tattoo parlors altogether, according to city staff, and no more than four massage shops could legally exist in Shell Beach.

Although council members had some concerns about including resale shops in the permanent ordinances and excluding bail bondsmen, tire shops, and blood and plasma sales centers, City Council voted to introduce the ordinances with little discussion and no public comment.

"I think we need to have some controls," Mayor Waage told New Times. "In the past, there were no controls whatsoever."

The ordinances will likely return to City Council for a discussion on more specifics in November. Δ

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