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Council Zeroes in on Tattoo Parlors



Richmond City Councilwoman Kathy Graziano wants the city to study whether to prohibit tattoo parlors from opening in residential areas. She also wants to investigate whether such businesses should be required to obtain special-use permits to operate in commercial and retail districts.

Council is scheduled to decide Monday whether to authorize the study.

Graziano made the proposal after a tattoo parlor opened across the street from her office off Forest Hill Avenue in the city's 4th District. The shop's name is DILLIGAF, an acronym for Does It Look Like I Give a F — .

When asked whether the store's name prompted the resolution, Graziano says: "I would tell you that if you had community input, perhaps an acronym might not be the name of the tattoo shop."

Graziano says her proposal is part of the larger question of how to balance the growing trend in neighborhoods that have homes and retail businesses living side by side.

New urbanism is only going to bring more retail into residential areas, she says, and the kinds of businesses matter. "Not that they shouldn't go in there," she says, "but the people should have some say."

Requiring special-use permits would involve the city Planning Commission, which typically holds public hearings in order to get community input before it makes recommendations to City Council.

Why start with tattoo parlors? Graziano's proposal says that "the customer foot-traffic generated by tattoo parlors may be disruptive to the environment of many residential neighborhoods."

For Fred Pinckard, owner of Salvation Tattoo Gallery on Pine Street in Oregon Hill, the lack of foot traffic was the draw.

"We're a full-custom shop, so it's not like we have a swarm of people running in every day," says Pinckard, whose team of tattoo artists design all their images from scratch instead of offering predesigned stars and anchors known as "flash."

"It kind of went back to how things used to be in the whole tattoo business," Pinckard says. "There wasn't one on every corner; you had to find the place to get it."

Several tattoo parlor owners who spoke with Style were aware of the measure and concerned that it would retroactively affect businesses already in operation. Although Graziano's resolution is a request for a study, should an ordinance enacting those restrictions become law, such zoning code amendments are rarely retroactive.

Despite her proposal, Graziano insists she's not anti-tattoo. "I have a lot of friends with tattoos!" she says. S

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