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Rene De La Cruz, Hesperia Star

Body artists respond to new city ordinance

Shadow Steel, owner of Redrum Tattoo Co. in Hesperia, thinks the city’s new body art facility ordinance is a great move by the City Council.

“It’s about time, and I’m glad to see it,” said Steel, as he worked on a client in his Main Street shop. “I’m registered and compliant, so the new law doesn’t affect me.”

The council unanimously passed an ordinance on Sept. 18 affecting Steel and all businesses that engage in body piercing, tattooing or the application of permanent cosmetics.

Under the new ordinance, which complies with state law, businesses must submit a business license application, a copy of a health permit from San Bernardino County Environmental Health Services, a county certificate of registration and register with the city. Body art facilities will also be subject to inspection for a list of requirements, such as adequate hot and cold running water, and equipment sterilization.

“The health inspector warned me that this was coming last year,” said Steel, whose shop has been in the same location for 12 years. “He told me a while back that almost one-quarter of the High Desert shops were not in compliance.”

There are 10 body art facilities set up in Hesperia, according to a staff report.

Previously, the city did not regulate these facilities, as they were classified as personal service businesses and fell under the oversight of the county’s EHS.

Before the ordinance, body art facilities needed only to obtain a business license and certificate of occupancy to operate in a designated commercial zone.

The top three items that a health inspector will look for are proper disposal of used equipment, a functioning sterilizer and the use of hospital grade disinfectants, said Steel, as he pointed to a variety of permits on the wall.

Artist Mike Dee of Fats Tattoo thinks the new law is simply another was for the government to make extra money.

“Besides this coming out of nowhere, now we’re going to have our suppliers jacking up their prices because of an enforced law,” said Dee, as he sat outside the shop. “Mandatory laws put us at the mercy of our suppliers.”

Dee, 29, who has worked in ink since 2002, said he questions the expertise of many of the health inspectors.

“Sometimes they come in and I have to tell them what to look for on their list,” Dee said. “Some of them need to be trained, and they need to work in our industry before they start inspecting it.”

Enforcement officers have the right to suspend or revoke registrations or health permits based on inspections as of July 1. The law also regulates body art performed in vehicles, temporary booths and events.

Bryan Soto, 19, said a shop’s reputation goes along way when it comes to attracting clients.

“I came to Redrum because I read the reviews, and because I heard they were careful when it comes to cleanliness. I think every shop needs to follow the law safety,” said Soto, as the image of a rising Phoenix began to take shape on his arm.

Megan Tucker, who does body piercing at Crossroads Tattoo, said besides the facility adhering to the state and city regulations, each employee who performs body art must also adhere individually to a set of laws.

“If we do body modifications, we have to get our bloodborne pathogens certification; it’s like a food handler card, but for people who deal with blood,” Tucker, 23, said. “We also have a ton of requirements to follow.”

The country requires all body art practitioners to adhere to a variety of county requirements, such as maintaining a valid practitioner registration, use of proper hygiene techniques before and during body art procedures, the proper disposal of waste and hepatitis B requirements.

“I know the shop does a great job with the current law,” Tucker said. “As for the new city law, it’s a good thing because it keeps everyone on their toes.”


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