The city of Napa is easing up on restrictions for tattoo parlors.

Two weeks ago, the city council voted 4-1 to allow tattoo parlors to operate in buildings located within the residential office zoning district, so long as they receive approval from the Planning Commission.

Councilman Mark van Gorder dissented, saying he doesn’t think tattoo parlors are the same as other businesses allowed in these zones and would not fit.

The rest of the council saw it differently, saying today’s tattoo parlors can exist as high-end art studios that would be appropriate among other businesses allowed in residential office districts, which includes art, music, dance and photo studios; barber shops and beauty and nail salons; mail services, and travel agencies.

“There are some really high-end places where these services are available,” Mayor Jill Techel said. “I’m for giving them some flexibility.”

Residential office districts are meant to encourage residential uses, but also allow offices and some services. They are located along main streets, including Solano Avenue, Soscol Avenue, Lincoln Avenue and Fourth Street.

Aside from residential office districts, tattooing is allowed only on a conditional basis in community commercial and downtown commercial districts, following Planning Commission approval. The commission would decide whether the parlor was suitable for the proposed location and compatible with surrounding businesses.

“I think this is a good fit for residential office districting, particularly if it comes through our Planning Commission,” Councilman Peter Mott said. “Our Planning Commission will have plenty of discretion.”

Van Gorder said he once lived next door to a residence-turned-tattoo parlor and witnessed its comings and goings.

“I watched the people come and go on their Harley motorcycles, making lots of noise,” he recalled. “Frankly, it was a little unnerving. I wouldn’t want to have a tattoo parlor right next to the place where you’re taking your kids on a daily basis,” he said, alluding to some of the more kid-friendly businesses located in residential office zones.

“To me, a tattoo parlor is a very different business than a kids’ karate studio and a beauty salon and a (scuba) shop,” van Gorder said. “I see tattoo parlors as being very different and attracting a whole different kind of clientele and different kind of people.”

Two of the city’s five planning commissioners shared similar concerns when they reviewed the proposal in the summer. The commission voted 3-2 to recommend to the council that tattooing be allowed in residential office zones.

The proposal came after a tattoo parlor already existing in a residential office district approached the city about how it could come into compliance with zoning laws. Garage Ink Studios & Gallery, 1525 Lincoln Ave., first opened as an art studio and residence and expanded to include tattooing, according to the city.

To bring the business into compliance, the city determined the business could shut down or relocate, apply for a rezoning of the property or seek a change in what is allowed in the residential office district.

(5) comments


How nice that Mr. van Gorder informed the public of his disdain for Harley-Davidson motorcycles and their riders and passengers.

Kind of explains how "Motorcycle Awareness Month" has turned out to be a punitive exercise for motorcyclists in this town, used for collecting fines from motorcyclists in the guise of safety instead of making other motorists "AWARE" of motocycles.

Little bit too much revealing straight talk, dont'cha think. I wonder how many other ways our council people are separated from reality and living in their little travel magazine world.

Actually, it explains a LOT. Government for the people ? Nope. Government to get at the people who scare councilpeople ? Obviously, they're admitting it now.

Still a joke, just more and more pathetic whenever they open their mouths.

I'll tell you what's a little unnerving. It's the governmental bLeaders and haters we have running this little town.


Once upon a time, tattoos were marks of personal experience or a memento of life events; time spent in the service, time served, memorializing a loved one, a personal piece of art. It used to be a sign of non-conformity. Now it's just "part of the uniform"; you're more of an individual if you don't have one. Used to be seeing that someone with a tattoo was unusual and made you think about what that person has done. Now with the ubiquity of tramp stamps and tribal-barbed-wire-bicep tattoos, I just think "Hmmm, that person once had $300 and was near the mall."

Tattoos are already as mainstream as an iPod and a Latte. Who cares where the studios go? Just make sure they're following safety regulations and taxed appropriately. It may not be a place I want my child to end up in, but it's my job as a parent to give my child the tools to be self confident enough to not consider a tattoo to be a smart use of money.


So a tattoo shop doesn't attract children. So what. Neither do the wine bars, bars, etc. Every kind of person in the world gets tattoos. Moms, dads, grandparents, different races. I think it's stupid that people think only Harley riders get tattoos. If you watch any of the many tattoo shows on tv you'd see the diversity of the clientele. It's a good business and the artists make a lot of money. Turns into good tax revenue for the city. I don't have any tattoos but many friends do including my nurse girlfriend. My Harley riding friend has zero tattoos. Go figure.


"...Do not mark your skin with tattoos...." Lev. 19:28, The Holy Bible.


Please don't push that on us. That's your belief, not everybody else. I respect people who follow the bible, now please respect people who don't. It's only fair. Just because the bible says it's so, doesn't make it the truth for everybody else.

I too think that tattoos are no longer necessarily associated with "rough around the edges" people. A long time ago rough and tough people were the majority of people with tattoos, but in our current society I see a big diversity of personalities with tattoos. Even sweet and darling soccer moms! And like another poster posted, grannies! Tattoos nowadays are just about for everybody of adult age. And the tattoos themselves have taken on an enormous diversity in meaning and message. I, who have no tattoos as of yet, and who don't fit the stereotypical image of someone who would get one, plan on getting memorial tattoos of my parents someday upon their passing, because I'm extremely close to them and they are my world.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.