Decision on Proposed Tattoo Shop Delayed Due to Possible Legal Action

A large crowd of people showed up at City Hall last night eager to hear the city's Planning Comm...

A large crowd of people showed up at City Hall last night eager to hear the city's Planning Commission consider an application for a tattoo parlor.

However, they walked away empty handed after it was announced the matter could not be decided that evening. The Commission chose to delay its decision after receiving some late correspondence from the applicant's attorney.

The applicant, Milton Chavez, a 31-year old tattoo artist who currently works at a shop in Oceanside, applied for a conditional use permit to open up his own shop inside the Newport Commons building, at 27174 Newport Rd in Menifee.

His attorney, Robert Moest, is the same attorney who handled a similar case in Hermosa Beach, where the city had initially banned tattoo shops. Moest took that case the US Circuit of Court of Appeals, and in October 2010, won.

The City of Menifee had initially denied Chavez' application for a tattoo shop when it was discovered the place of business would lie 913 feet away from Seventh Day Adventist Church. Existing city ordinance requires that tattoo shops be located at least 1,000 feet from churches.

Chavez then asked City Hall for a "variance", which is effectively an exception to the law. City Hall therefore referred the case to the Planning Commission, which last night postponed the hearing until the City could take Moest's letter into full consideration.

When the City measured the distance from the church to the proposed shop, it drew a straight line, as the crow flies, from church's property boundary, to the proposed tattoo shop.

But when measured by actual walking distance, according to Google Maps, by heading down Newport Rd, and then down Bradley Rd to the church, the distance appears to be well over 1,200 feet, enough to satisfy the ordinance.

Moest's letter argues...

"...and that the distance between his shop and the church, while less than 1,000 feet measured as the crow flies, is well over 1,000 feet if measured by walking or driving distance."

The letter goes on to say that if Chavez is denied the variance by the City, he will pursue legal action against the City.

The city ordinance in question, 2010-084 does not specify how the distance should be measured.

"It's common practice for cities to measure distance between property line to property line, as the crow flies", explained Carmen Cave, Planning Director for the City of Menifee. When asked if the City Council or Planning Commission could modify the ordinance to measure distance by walking/driving distance, Cave answered, "Absolutely".

Darcy Kuenzi, Menifee City Council member, seems open to the idea. "I'd be interested in revisiting the ordinance, and take a look at what we can do", she said after watching the Planning Commission hearing in the lobby last night. "But let's consider all the requirements, including the proximity to churches and schools, the health and safety, the operating hours, and see how we can make it fit in our city."

menifee planning commission
Even though the Planning Commission chose to postpone its decision last night, people in attendance were still allowed to voice their opinions, forming a long line behind the podium.

The sentiment seemed evenly divided between those in favor, and those against.

"It's coming down to the church people and the tattoo people", said one speaker in favor of the tattoo shop. "There's a smoke shop right next to the church", he continued. "It doesn't make sense."

"Tattoos are everywhere. Kids see them everywhere." said a woman who described herself as a soccer mom. "You can't judge a book by its cover", she said while removing her sweater and exposing her arms. "I'm tattooed, and I'm a part of them."

Another woman against the tattoo shop knew of someone who once owned a shop and then sold it. "In his experience, many, many shops that he was aware of were fronts for drugs", she reported.

"That's the most ridiculous thing ever" Chavez responded after the hearing to the woman's remarks. "To just lump us? That's just disingenuous. I'm a father of three, I don't do drugs."

"There's a smoke shop next to the church", Chavez continued. "They have bongs and stuff, and do you think that's not for drugs?"

Chavez sounded confident of his chances.

"This is not going to be your average tattoo shop", he added. "It's going to be very high end, we're going to serve many well-known people in the motocross and sports industry. This is not a place that will bring drugs or crime into the city."

"We should be a business-friendly city", Council member Kuenzi continued. "There are people in Menifee who want tattoos and right now they have to spend their money in other cities. I think we should try to keep that money here."

As it stands now, the City of Menifee is taking the attorney letter into consideration before allowing the Planning Commission to make a decision. No timeframe was given.


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  1. I don't think that it would be a bad thing at all to hve a tattoo shop... I personally like the idea... It would increase revenue for Menifee, and as long as there were guidelines for the tattoo parlor to follow and upkeep, I see no problem with it.... Menifee has a lot of diversity as you've seen with arts, music, and just people in general. It's not a low-life thing to have tattoos anymore, 20 years ago, I would've been strongly against it, but we're in the 21st century, you're going to see tattoos everywhere.

  2. This just in: Menifee to ban dancing and that new fangled "Rock and/or Roll" music.

  3. How can a delay in the decision making process, possibly be a good thing? If the council made a sound decision based on SANITY, free market and personal liberty...there would be no need for legal action. Maybe we don't need a city council or planning department, let's just get a top notch legal team for every special interest group and we can tie everything up in courts.

  4. last I saw... crows dont have tatts, but I could be wrong.

  5. During the Commission meeting last Tuesday night, we followed the Menifee 24/7 posts, facebook and twitter, and read the quotes of what was being said.
    And we also saw the string of responses from people saying "these guys are rediculous, let's vote them off".

    But now this says that the Commission postponed the discussion. Was it the Planning Commissioners that said those things, or were you quoting members of the public?

  6. @Anonymous 5:22PM We were quoting members of the public.

  7. I still am in favor of his shop but just not there, frankly, I think some quick and smooth talking property manager sold him the idea of moving into a medical building that has open suites that have sat empty forever! If I wanted to invest in having a tattoo shop I certainly wouldn't want it in a medical bldg, on the 2nd floor down a hallway in a suite..just an example ...I would want it store front, big windows so everyone can clearly see your business..this to me is what will help him in bringing in new business. Just my opinion of course. He needs to get out of this contract and move his business to Scott Rd, its hard for me to believe all those new stores are already filled with businesses...just sayin...

  8. I think a tattoo shop would be great.

  9. I missed the meeting.Where is the link to what was said by the public down at the meeting on the 10th?

  10. All those in favor of opening the shop, most likely have tatooes on themselves.

  11. I don't have any tattoos, yet I am in favor of the shop being approved. It would be nice to have a shop where the owner actually lives in the same city as the business.

  12. My husband is a tattoo artist and he doesn't want a shop in Menifee. If you think that all tattoo shops aren't linked to drugs and violence in some way, then you're just being naive.

  13. January 24, 2012 3:18 PM

    So your husband is an addict? Or just a causal user?

  14. Well, that was rude now, wasn't it? I didn't say all tattoo artists are linked to drugs and violence, did I?

  15. So you believe it when he says, I'm holding those drugs for a friend.

  16. Wow really? Every tattoo shop is linked to drugs and violence and you feel you can make that broad statement and not get some sort of comment back? If you choose to go by generalizations then how about this? Your husband by being a tattoo artist is a dirtbag.

  17. I'm not sure why her husband doesn't want a tattoo shop in Menifee, perhaps he thinks not enough seniors want tattoo's...just kidding. Its a business and if the owner wants to stay in business he'd better not be selling drugs! Don't equate all those who want or already have tattoo's as drug addicts. My brothers have a couple of tattoos and they were never into drugs.

  18. This tattoo shop does not belong in a building designed for legitimate business' and is being lease as medical office space. Maybe it could move to Quail Valley. Rent would be cheaper and it isn't too far for people to drive. Newport Commons just isn't the right location for a business that would be open until 9:00 p.m. seven days a week when all the other business' close at 5:00.
    This guy is missing so much business by not just opening in another location, cutting the fight and feeding his family.

  19. How is a tattoo shop not a legitimate business? They pay taxes just like every other business.

    Not all businesses at the Commons close at 5pm nor are they all medical.

    If Mr. Chavez wants to move to the western part of Menifee, more power to him. I know several police officers, deputies, fire fighters, and military who live there that would love to get a new tattoo.