Torrance Tattoo Parlor Ban Again Challenged in Court
A city ordinance that makes it unlawful to operate a business where tattooing is practiced is again being challenged in federal court. If the challenge is successful, it will open the door for tattoo establishments to begin operating within Torrance.
Plaintiff Tiffany Garcia recently filed a lawsuit with the Central District of California alleging that the Torrance prohibition against tattoo businesses violates the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution as well as Article 1, Section 2 of the California Constitution.
In the lawsuit, Garcia claims that in early 2015 she located a desirable site for a tattoo studio on Hawthorne Blvd. in Torrance. When she went to secure the appropriate permits from the City she was informed by the Planning Department that tattoo businesses are flatly prohibited anywhere within City limits and that the ban was recently considered and left unmodified.
Garcia is seeking that the Torrance ordinance be declared unconstitutional and the City be immediately enjoined from enforcing the ban. Garcia is also seeking damages for the loss of her rights and for being deprived of the opportunity to operate the business. The suit also seeks attorney fees and costs of suit.
The lawsuit relies on 2010 ruling from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that struck down a similar ban in neighboring Hermosa Beach. In that Anderson v. Hermosa Beach case, the Court held that “the tattoo itself, the process of tattooing, and the business of tattooing are forms of pure expression fully protected by the First Amendment,” and that “the City’s total ban on tattoo parlors in Hermosa Beach is not a reasonable “time, place, or manner” restriction because it is substantially broader than necessary to achieve the City’s significant health and safety interests and because it entirely forecloses a unique and important method of expression.”
The issue created a stir among many residents in Hermosa Beach at the time of the court ruling and is likely to spur similar sentiments in Torrance. According to the Daily Breeze, the same plaintiff in the Hermosa Beach case was paid $50,000 to settle a similar case he brought against Torrance prior to initiating legal action against Hermosa Beach.