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Tattoo parlor gets council’s go-ahead in Laguna Beach, despite concerns from councilwoman and some parents at nearby school

Tattoo parlor gets council’s go-ahead in Laguna Beach, despite concerns from councilwoman and some parents at nearby school
Zane Leibowitz, owner of Bare Bones Tattoo, responded to critics of his plan to open the parlor on South Coast Highway in Laguna Beach by saying, “I’m opening a legitimate business; this is not the crazy thing that people think is happening.” (File Photo)

An upscale tattoo parlor is forging ahead with plans to open in Laguna Beach after a 4-1 City Council vote Tuesday night, with Councilwoman Toni Iseman dissenting.

Bare Bones Tattoo won Planning Commission approval last month for a conditional use permit to do business at 2940 S. Coast Hwy. But Iseman requested that the application be reviewed by the council.

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She cited potential parking issues and said the parlor “doesn’t fit with the neighborhood commercial zone.”

“I think it’s a real stretch to call it less obnoxious than a hair salon,” she said.

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The applicant, tattoo artist and business owner Zane Leibowitz, said he plans to create an upscale, intimate tattoo experience serving residents and visitors. But several parents from the nearby St. Catherine of Siena Parish School said they were concerned about the parlor’s possible effects on their children and the Catholic elementary school’s reputation.

Bridget Larkin, a mother of three, said the school’s enrollment is already down and she contested city staff’s estimation that the parlor would be 400 feet from the school entrance.

“When we do have people visit our school and tour … the last thing I want them to see is a tattoo parlor where they’re going to drop their kids off,” Larkin said. “I don’t know if we need a fifth tattoo parlor, but we do need St. Catherine’s in Laguna to remain.”

Leibowitz responded that there is no evidence that tattoo shops bring crime. He invited the community to visit his shop once it opens.

“I’m opening a legitimate business; this is not the crazy thing that people think is happening,” Leibowitz said. “Stereotypes of tattoo shops, sure there are those, but times have changed. I mean, I have tattooed doctors, lawyers, everything.”

Mayor Pro Tem Steve Dicterow agreed, saying he lives within a couple of blocks of a tattoo shop in Laguna Beach and knows of no criminal incidents related to it.

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