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Paso Robles' first tattoo shop is now open

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Posted at 6:10 PM, Jan 17, 2022

The first tattoo shop in Paso Robles is up and running after a nearly three-decade ban.

Several months ago, the City of Paso Robles passed an urgency ordinance to allow tattoo parlors in certain areas of the city.

Dylan Richter is an artist and the Owner of Pioneer Tattoo Company. The shop on Riverside Avenue opened its doors on December 1.

"It's kind of surreal honestly like I still look around and I'm like, I can't believe that this is actually a thing," Richter said.

Richter, once a professional graphic designer, turned tattoo artist nearly a decade ago.

"For me, it's just awesome to know that someone comes in, they give us an idea and then we put it on their skin and it's going to be there forever. You know, it's something that means a lot to them. So, for me, that's a huge deal," Richter explained.

Richter is a Paso Robles resident who has been instrumental in helping allow tattoo shops to get on the map in this area.

"It's been outlawed for 27 years. I've been in the courts for three years. It's finally happening," Richter said.

In 1994, tattooing was prohibited in the city, in part, due to a lack of adequate health regulation. In 2010, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, however, that prohibiting tattoo parlors is an unconstitutional restriction on freedom of expression. In October of 2021, Paso Robles City Council passed an urgency ordinance to allow the shops to go up.

Tattoo parlors are now allowed along the Riverside corridor as well as commercial/light industrial zones.

Those who have tattoos say the move is not only beneficial for new business but for those who like to express themselves through this form of art.

"For me, as a cancer survivor, getting tattoos was a way to express the journey that I went through and the battle that I faced and also, a memory thing for my dad who passed," said Jennifer Fanning of Paso Robles.

During Tuesday's council meeting, a second reading and an adoption of the final ordinance are expected. It'll outline the ins and outs of the restrictions for any future tattoo shops in Paso Robles.

"I think this is a huge step for the city and I'm excited to see what happens next," Richter concluded.

The ordinance expected to be adopted says a tattoo parlor must be at least 1,000 feet from any other tattoo parlor, the parlor must be at least 500 feet from any K through 12th-grade school and tattoo shops cannot operate between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.