The Antioch City Council voted 3-2 to allow Juanito Valentine to open his tattoo studio after hearing arguments from several residents in the neighborhood who opposed the idea.
The item was brought before the City Council after the Planning Commission took “no action” on January 21 after a it voted 3-2 in favor of the business, however, it needed 4-votes.
Valentine approached the council highlighting that his dream was to open his own shop to and his passion was creating tattoos. Ink’d Up Tattoo Studio was planned to be located at A Street and 17th.
“I understand the concerns, it’s not the shop that have the bad reputation, it’s the people who get it,” said Valentine. “It’s like a dog, the animal is a good animal, it’s the owner who makes the dog bad. I went and talked to my community and see how I can help. If I am going to be a business owner, I am supposed to give back.”
He stated that the concern was with his hours and that he was adjustable with them.
“I am very adjustable. To see my dream, who wouldn’t compromise?” said Valentine. “It’s not an hour, it’s not a day. It’s a dream and maybe showing good faith. I am a hard working person with a big dream and who doesn’t want to own their own lifestyle and their own dream. I am pleading with you to give me a chance and show you I can be an asset to Antioch.”
Either with Valentines plea to the council, some residents argued against the proposal saying that Antioch already has tattoo shops and wanted “family friendly” businesses in the neighborhood.
Sandra Kelly, who stated she spoke as part of the C Street Neighborhood Watch Group called the A Street corridor an eye sore and had 24-residents sign a petition opposing this plan.
“This area is fragile and dangerous already,” said Kelly.
She requested the businesses in the neighborhood be family friendly. She highlighted many kids travel 17th street and we want to protect the children.
Kelly also highlighted three shootings to death. The latest calls for service on showed 10 calls between 17th Street. She also argued the issue is the proposed tattoo parlor is not of use to local residents—it’s an adult establishment. There are already 3-5 tattoo parlors within a mile of the location.
Lori Cook stated that Antioch has a total of 5 tattoo parlors (3-full time and 2-part time) along with 6 more in Pittsburg and Brentwood.
“I believe this area is better served by a nice neighborhood restaurant or coffee house to bring more people to Antioch,” said Cook. “I think this business should be located in another neighborhood.”
Ronald Nichols , who lives around the corner from proposed location, voiced his concerns while accusing Antioch of no effort in elevating the A Street corridor.
“My concern is we consider business that can elevate the neighborhood to attract more family oriented businesses. It’s a young growing neighborhood and being transitions. I’d like to see that transition continue,” said Nichols.
John Rexroth argued that this business would impact kids and he proclaimed to know what kind of people get tattoos and that it did not make sense.
Meanwhile, Jean Nichols stated she was not opposed to tattoo parlors, but that there is already a saturation of tattoo parlors, bars, hairdressers
“What is the draw to this city?” asked Nichols. “The draw is gang violence, alcohol, barber shops. What are we standing for? I respect Mr. Valentine but put it in another area where is creativity can grow.”
Antioch resident Fred Hoskins did not oppose the idea stating he didn’t know what was going on with the opposition but called it “hogwash”.
“If there were 15-tatto parlors, it would be okay with me. Mind you I don’t have a tattoo and I won’t get one, but if I had a business and you started throwing all these restrictions I’d be concerned,” said Hoskins. “We make claims, the circumstance is we are working in this city to be friendly to business but we are now defining it to how many hours you can work. Why would we care if they were open from 8-to-midnight?”
He argued that a restriction on 18-and-old or parent supervision he had no problem, but this gets down to a business right to operate.
“Are we making a decision on moral issue? Upgrading in a community, we got a lot upgrading to work on and we better do it without nitpicking on every business,” said Hoskins. “Tattoo people, if you really look at it, they are really artist. I support artist of all kinds. Let’s relax on these off the wall statements; it’s not going to kill the city. If we have a dozen, we will have taxes and income. “
Ken Turnage, an Antioch business owner stated he supported a business who wanted to come to Antioch.
“If these people are wanting to put a business in a vacant spot, who are we to stand in there way?” said Turnage. “It may not be the exact business some people want. But having peopled there instead of a vacant spot, its better.“
During Council discussion, Councilwoman Mary Rocha expressed her concern with the hours.
Valentine highlighted for the second time he was flexible with his hours.
“My initial thought of 10-pm at night, some people get off late and are back in town after 6pm,” explained Valentine. “So I made the hours open leaving it open and not cutting myself off at the legs with a shorter hour. I am adjustable without a doubt.”
Rocha questioned whether Antioch could tie the tattoo shop hours to a neighboring business so all the businesses could have similar hours. She then wondered about police calls for service and the impact that could have.
Captain Orman highlighted that there has not been any known instance for police service or out of the normal crime. He then highlighted the calls for service were out of them being good citizens because they were reporting suspicious activity.
Rocha stated she was supportive of what Valentine was trying to accomplish, but concerned about the hours and the strong stance from the neighborhood against the idea.
Councilman Tony Tiscareno stated the applicant was being sincere and that he wanted to support business.
“If our police is stating we have credible business with problems at hand, why would we not support him. I am not a stickler to the hours. I want to encourage all people to open a business. I am willing to support this,” said Tiscareno.
Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock applauded Valentine for wanting to open his business. She stated her concern about the hours, but at 10pm, he will be helpful in seeing people on the street.
Councilwoman Monica Wilson applauded Valentines entrepreneurship, but voiced her concern over the hours.
“What this to me boils down to being the right business for the area. Is it going to be the right area for you,” said Wilson. “I would encourage staff to work with you on an alternate area.”
Mayor Wade Harper scolded members of the council highlighting how the council should be careful when there is not a restriction on a business and their opinion.
“When I make decisions I look at principal vs. preference. None of the tattoo parlors have generated calls for service except for being good citizens. There are some stereotype against tattoo parlors,” said Harper. “Why would the council put our preference over the principal. The principal has been met.”
Harper suggested that he did not want to limit the business hours, but suggested as a gentlemen he stay open until 9pm. He encouraged the business to bcome part of the neighborhood watch and work as part of the community.
“I don’t think we should as a council decide when there is nothing against it, tattoos are not illegal and I think they will be good citizens,’ said Harper.
The application was approved in a 3-2 vote with Rocha and Wilson opposing.