Oceanside Pot Shops Surpass Tattoo Parlors

Existing Frontline Tattoo on Oceanside Blvd.

In Oceanside, as in many cities, tattoo parlors have been moved away from schools and neighborhoods. The city prohibits them within 500 feet of a residential neighborhood. Like cannabis outlets, they have long been seen as gateways to crime. Until the pot stores standardized them.

Cannabis businesses had to be at least 1,000 feet from residential neighborhoods, but were allowed to apply for city location waivers. Tattoo shops couldn’t.

With the city’s five licensed tattoo parlors located in commercial and industrial districts, there is little room for newcomers, as these areas tend to run along major transportation corridors, which also border the neighborhoods.

This week, the California Coastal Commission will pass a zoning amendment the city has proposed to remove the distance requirement between tattoo shops and residential areas, as long as a freeway or state road is between the two uses.

“The city has determined that bisecting freeways provide a visual and sometimes physical barrier that is functionally equivalent to the 500 foot separation,” a staff report reads.

A zoning ordinance The rule change for tattoo shops was passed by City Council on September 1, 2021, but a revision that extended several downtown commercial uses was unwittingly excluded from the local coastal plan change approved by the Commission in October, according to the report.

Once certified by the commission, the change will open up six new downtown sub-districts to tattoo businesses, which will be approved by administrative controlled use permits.

A single sub-district at the eastern end of Oceanside Harbor lies adjacent to coastal waters. The site allows for retail sales, antiques, wine and beer tastings, and overnight accommodations.

Of the 22 sub-districts currently located in the city center, only two allow tattoo parlors.

While historically body art shops were kept away from tourist areas, each of the six new sub-districts allows commercial or visitor-serving uses.