CHANGING THE CULTURE — Above, DeLand-based tattoo artist Brittany Arizona speaks to the DeLand City Commission earlier this year to try and convince the city to change its restrictive rules on where tattoo studios can open in DeLand.

Having tattoo studios Downtown doesn’t bother the DeLand City Commission. Tattoos don’t bother the City Commission, either. 

What caused debates among city commissioners when they voted on tattoos Aug. 21 was what passersby might be able to see through the front window, and how many tattoo studios should be allowed to open in one area.

After 90 minutes of back-and-forth, the City Commission approved updated rules surrounding tattoo studios by a 4-1 vote. The only commissioner to oppose the ordinance was Charles Paiva, who stressed that it wasn’t because he opposes tattoo studios Downtown, but because he wanted to see distance required between tattoo shops.

The vote was on what’s called “first reading.” A second affirmative vote is required before the new rules become law, and that’s scheduled Monday, Sept. 18.

Mayor Chris Cloudman said he supported no required distance between shops, because it could affect some existing businesses in addition to incoming tattoo studios. While the city’s planning staff had recommended 1,000 feet, the city’s Planning Board had recommended reducing that to 150 feet.

The mayor was thinking of more common beauty salons.

“I was concerned this applies to more than just the traditional tattoo shop as you think of it,” Cloudman said. “We have a lot of salons that are offering small tattoo services, or are wanting to, and I think some of them could be within 150 feet.” 

Current city codes impose heavy restrictions on tattoo studios. Studios must be in specific kinds of commercial areas and must have large landscaping buffers separating them from roads. For that reason, tattoo studios in the DeLand area have generally located just outside city limits, where county government’s rules apply.

Earlier this year, several DeLand-born tattoo artists approached city leaders and asked them to change, sharing that they didn’t feel welcome in the city they loved. 

If passed on second reading with no changes, the city’s code will allow tattoo studios to open in Downtown DeLand with no buffer required between studios. 

The City Commission also tasked City Attorney Darren Elkind with researching potential language to add to the ordinance that would mandate what body parts artists can be seen visibly tattooing or piercing from the street.

Getting between the lines

Members of the City Commission spent a good bit of time debating those elements of the new rules.

Commissioners talked about whether people walking by studio windows would have a clear view of active tattooing or piercing — especially involving private body parts. Commissioner Jessica Davis thought about attending Downtown DeLand events with her young daughter.

“I just can’t imagine having the Ice Cream Walk and seeing that boob getting pierced,” Davis said.

Per City Manager Michael Pleus, City Attorney Darren Elkind is researching whether Florida state rules already have guidelines to regulate the visibility of the tattoo and piercing arts. 

“If so,” Pleus told The Beacon, “it would be staff’s intent to recommend leaving that part out.”

But DeLand-based tattoo artist Brittany Arizona of Always Anchored Tattoo doesn’t imagine keeping private things private will be a problem.

“We definitely won’t be tattooing in the lobby, but now we don’t have to worry if we’re being seen tattooing through the window, which I think would be difficult with MainStreet locations,” Arizona told The Beacon.

More than anything, she’s excited for her hometown to allow her and other tattoo artists to do business in the Downtown core.

“I really appreciate the city’s willingness to work with tattooers on the issues of distance and tattooing in the public view,” Arizona said. “I’ve seen a very positive response from the city, and I can’t express how much I appreciate that.”



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