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Tattoo parlors in Paso Robles may be allowed once again after a 27-year ban

Posted at 6:33 PM, Oct 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-19 10:13:52-04

Tattoo parlors are currently prohibited in the City of Paso Robles but that could change come Tuesday.

One of the topics during Tuesday’s city council meeting is tattooing and its future in Paso Robles.

Robbie Rittenhouse has owned Cherry Blossom Tattoo in Atascadero since 2005.

“I’ve been tattooing in this area since ‘99 and tried to open up a shop in Paso and they don't allow it for the longest time,” Rittenhouse explained.

In May of 1994, the city council adopted an ordinance that prohibited tattoo parlors and the act of tattooing within city limits.

No changes have been made to that ordinance in the last 27 years until now.

“I think that the majority of this is just that we've had some applicants that are interested in opening up some sort of tattooing service here in Paso Robles,” said Ty Lewis, Paso Robles City Manager.

The city says part of the original reason for prohibiting tattooing in the city outright was a lack of adequate health regulation at the time.

Tattoo parlors were not then regulated by the state or county.

“It's had a bad stigma on it for a while because of incarceration. Because of a lot of stuff in the past during some wars and stuff like that but now it's just an expression of art,” said Former Paso Robles resident, Brandon Pendley.

In 2010, there was also a court case in Hermosa Beach that decided to prohibit tattoo parlors is unconstitutional on freedom of expression.

“It might look like, you know, I have tattoos on my face or whatever but it's my son’s name. It's just stuff that means stuff to you, you know,” said Robert Kortje of Paso Robles.

On Tuesday, the city council will vote on this proposed interim urgency ordinance which will allow tattoo parlors in the Riverside Corridor and commercial zones in Paso Robles.

paso map.PNG
City of Paso Robles commercial zones

“Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, all the way down they have them,” Pendley said. “I think it's something that could generate some revenue here.”

But this local artist says the area is already saturated with shops.

“Once you open one shop, five more are going to open,” Rittenhouse said.

The ordinance does not mention a cap on the number of businesses. It needs a 4/5 vote by the council for approval.

If approved, the urgency ordinance will expire 45 days after its adoption unless extended by the city council.

The city says this ordinance is a short-term solution to meet what’s happening at the state, regional, and county levels.