Faced with an abundance of tattoo parlors, the Fullerton City Council this week voted to put some restrictions on where new ones can open.

However, the big question remaining is whether the minimal health standards required of the shops are adequate.

Fullerton has 18 tattoo parlors, twice as many as any of eight neighboring communities, according to a staff survey. The new regulations are intended to prevent new clusters of tattoo shops from forming, to prohibit passersby from viewing body parts being tattooed, and to keep new tattoo shops from opening right next to schools.

The council received varying accounts from a tattoo parlor owner and staff reports regarding the health requirements of tattoo parlors and who enforces them.

“When you start putting pins and needles into skin,” said Councilman Richard Jones, a retired doctor, “… I would have thought there is some sort of control of that.”

Jones said he worries that unsuspecting members of the public could contract hepatitis or other diseases from dirty needles and other unsanitary conditions.

The city, he said, needs to “ensure we are not injecting disease into our citizens.”

But city officials said staff lacked the expertise to conduct such inspections and there is no state law requiring them. One parlor owner said state worker-safety inspectors check his shop and personnel for hazards, but he said not all tattoo stores are under that program.

Next to Fullerton, the area communities with the most tattoo shops, according to the staff survey, were Costa Mesa and Orange, tied at nine each, and Newport Beach with eight. Other cities on the list included Santa Ana with four tattoo parlors, Brea with three and Placentia with one.

Council members adopted the new location restrictions, 4-0 (the council has one vacancy), and asked city staff to report on the possibility of working with the Orange County Health Care Agency to arrange some sort of health standards.


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