Tattoo Parlor Vs. Tempe: Oral Arguments to Begin in Case Defended by Goldwater Institute

Arguments are set to begin Monday morning in a case that pits the would-be owners of a Tempe tattoo parlor against officials who think the business is seedy.

Tom and Elizabeth Preston, who already own a tattoo shop in Mesa, told the press in 2007, when the lawsuit was first filed, that they wouldn't be able to fight City Hall except for free attorneys provided by the Goldwater Institute. The conservative think-tank believes the Prestons got screwed, blued, and un-tattooed by the city, which approved and then revoked a business license for the planned North Tempe parlor. According to a announcement by the institute today:


The City Council told them there was a "perception" that they would bring crime to the North Tempe shopping center where they had spent tens of thousands to renovate a storefront, despite having no evidence to prove this claim. The Goldwater Institute sued Tempe on the Preston's behalf under the due process, equal protection, and free speech provisions of the federal and state constitutions.

Oral arguments are the time when attorneys on both sides lay out their cases to the judge or jury. The proceeding is scheduled for 9:45 a.m. in Judge Robert Oberbillig's courtroom, 125 West Washington Street, Phoenix, Courtroom 202.

City records detail some of the opposition received from neighbors in the area of Union Plaza, where the Prestons wanted to open a shop called Body Accents and Piercing Studio:

OPPOSITION:Nancy Hickman, Hickman Plumbing, 2606 North Papago Drive, stated that her business is next door to this proposed establishment and that she had concerns about music, smoking, and loitering.

Donald Hickman, Hickman Plumbing, 2606 North Papago Drive, stated that he would not hire anyone with a tattoo and that the music, people, and smoking are issues that concern him.

Darlene Justus of 315 East Garfield delivered two additional letters of opposition. She discussed the secondary effect that this establishment would have on nearby business (i.e. clustering issues) and mentioned that Smokin Lingerie was in this general area.

Frank Duby of 304 East McKinley Street stated that he was in opposition because of health issues and that the tattoo/body piercing is an unregulated industry. He also mentioned Smokin Lingerie and the hours of operation as well as the clustering effects these businesses have on the area.

SUPPORT:Gary Olney of 408 East Julie Drive spoke in support of this business and stated that each business should beconsidered on its own merits.

After Tempe hearing officer David Williams approved Body Accent's use permit in June, neighbors rallied and got his decision overturned.

There does seem to be a bit of a double standard going on -- Smokin Lingerie, the nearby business to which neighbors referred, certainly pushes the envelope when it comes to community standards. From its Web site:



LARGEST SELECTION OF LEATHER B&D EQUIPMENT P.E.S ELECTRO ( an Automatic Sex Machine for Men andWomen THE SYBIAN (an Automatic Masturbation Machine for Women) The VENUS 2000 (an Automatic Masturbation Machine for Men) LARGEST SELECTION OF LEATHER LINGERIE THOUSANDS OF ADULT TOYS AND ACCESSORIES

The neighbors apparently think a tattoo shop, combined with Smokin Lingerie, will create too much negative synergy.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.