North Bend's home business ban on tattoo parlors passed in emergency ordinance

Dave Herman had plans to move his tattoo business, Ambrosia Tattoo Gallery, to North Bend. A new rule change prevents him from opening one in a building downtown. - Courtesy photo
Dave Herman had plans to move his tattoo business, Ambrosia Tattoo Gallery, to North Bend. A new rule change prevents him from opening one in a building downtown.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Tattoo parlors are not allowed in North Bend, except in an employment park zone on the extreme eastern edge of the city. At least, that's what North Bend planning staff thought until tattoo artist David Herman, currently of Redmond, made plans to move to North Bend.

Herman, owner of Ambrosia Tattoo Gallery (, had planned to open his shop April 1 in a building on Ballarat Avenue, squarely in the city's Downtown Commercial zone, where such businesses are prohibited. However he also planned to live in the building, making his business a home-based business, and a legal one, according to the city's code.

"The main problem here is that the underlying zone did not allow it," said Gina Estep, North Bend's planning and economic development director, who presented an emergency ordinance to ban tattoo parlors as home occupations at the March 5 North Bend City Council meeting.

Estep told the council that her department had contacted the city's legal counsel after talking with Herman about his intent, and the attorney indicated the business would be legal as a home occupation in the downtown commercial zone.

Since this conflicted with the city's decision long ago to separate what City Administrator Londi Lindell called "sensitive uses" like tattoo parlors, adult entertainment and check-cashing businesses, Estep and staff began work on the ordinance. She also said staff notified Herman that there might be a problem with his shop within three weeks of their contact with the legal counsel, but he proceeded with his plans anyway.

Herman attended the meeting and lobbied for his business to be permitted, saying he had contacted city staff several times about his plans, had applied for a business license Feb. 11 and had already begun moving into the rental property.

"I came here as a good neighbor," he said, adding that his business would be "…a very professional shop, run by a marketing professional." He also said he was well-known in the industry and had many "high-profile" clients who would be coming to his shop in North Bend.

Loudenback supported the code change but, felt the city should make some allowance for Herman's business.

"In every (contact) with the city, the applicant was given positive reinforcement," he said, adding that his personal sense of fairness called for the city to allow the business.

Councilman Dee Williamson said he would have agreed with Loudenback and Kolodejchuk if Herman had already received his business license, "but since the license hasn't been approved, we have recourse."

Several pieces of information, needed to approve Herman's license, were missing, Lindell said, including the question of whether he met the space requirement. Home-based businesses can take up the lesser of 500 square feet of floor space, or 25 percent of the home's floor area.

The revised ordinance, approved in a 5-2 vote by the council, with Loudenback and Williamson opposed, bans tattoo parlors, body piercing shops, and any businesses or collective gardens involving the exchange of marijuana as home-based businesses within the city. Uses already banned as home occupations by the code, automobile-related services, direct merchandise sales, warehousing or manufacturing with the conversion of raw materials, remain banned.

Because it was passed on an emergency basis, the code took effect immediately, which resulted in a rejection of Herman's business license application.

The code will go back to the city's planning commission for review, and a public hearing is required on the issue within 60 days.



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