North Bend expands tattoo zone, but current business is still out

For the third time this year, North Bend’s City Council voted on city zoning regarding tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Also for the third time, the council has expanded the areas in which those businesses can operate, although with split votes and some dissatisfaction.

The latest change, approved 4-3 at the council’s Tuesday, Dec. 3, meeting, permits the businesses in the previously approved Interchange Commercial and Interchange Mixed-Use zone north of I-90, and now in the Downtown Commercial zones, but only for properties facing or abutting North Bend Way or Bendigo Boulevard.

It still doesn’t permit David Herman, the tattoo artist who announced plans to open a home-based business here on April 1, to operate his Ballarat Avenue shop legally, however.

Herman’s plans prompted the city’s first action on tattoo parlors, a ban on them as home-based businesses regardless of the property’s zoning, at its March 5 meeting. That action triggered an after-the fact review by the city’s planning commission and several public hearings.

It also drew strong responses from citizens who contacted their councilmen with feedback both for and against the code change, and comments on tattoos in general.

Planning commissioners also felt strongly about the issue, and addressed the council June 18, unanimously recommending major changes to the code for tattoo parlors and piercing studios. They rejected many of the council’s premises for its initial action against tattoo parlors, saying tattoos are becoming very common and the businesses are not the sensitive use the city’s zoning was treating them as.

Council adopted only part of their recommendations, approving the businesses in the above-mentioned IC and IMU zones and banning them in the previously permitted Employment Park-2 zone. Councilmen were opposed to permitting them in the Neighborhood Business and throughout the Downtown Commercial zones, but asked the commission to develop more specific recommendations for within the DC zone.

When those recommendations were presented to the council Dec. 3, they were considered in the context of public comment from two citizens at the meeting asking the council to be supportive of small businesses and open-minded about tattoos, and a collection of letters from downtown businesses opposed to having a tattoo parlor operating nearby.

Before the council voted, Councilman Dee Williamson proposed an amendment to the code, to ban tattoo parlors and piercing studios from North Bend’s historic commercial district, roughly the 100 block of West North Bend Way, zoned DC.

“This, in my opinion, is listening to the concerns of the citizens that are directly impacted in that area,” he said.

Williamson’s amendment failed by one vote, the same margin by which the final code change was approved. The final vote was Williamson, David Cook and Ryan Kolodejchuk in favor of the failed amendment and opposed to the code change, against Alan Gothelf, Ross Loudenback, Jeanne Pettersen, and Jonathan Rosen.


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