Tattoo ban may not be permanent

Tattoo businesses are currently taboo within the Oak Harbor city limits, but that may change.

Thursday, the city council will consider changing or doing away with a 10-year-old ordinance that bans tattoo-related businesses from the city, citing health risks and other concerns.

The council has a special meeting, followed by a economic development workshop, at 6 p.m. in City Hall. The council will take public comment on the tattoo ordinance.

Mary Tacia, a permanent cosmetics technician, brought the issue to council members’ attention. In April, the city issued her licenses to do permanent cosmetics tattooing and microderm abrasion; city staff later revoked her license for permanent cosmetics since it is banned under the city’s tattoo ordinance.

Tacia continues to perform microderm abrasion at Studio M in Oak Harbor, but she has to bring clients to her home office outside the city to do the permanent cosmetics. Her business is called Bella Ve, which is on the Web at

Tacia argues that there’s a big difference between permanent cosmetics and other forms of tattooing or body art. She’s not completely opposed to the city’s ordinance, she just said it should be tweaked to allow permanent cosmetic tattooing.

What she does, she explained, is apply permanent make-up with a manual implement, not a tattoo gun. She can give her clients permanent eyebrow make-up, eyeliner, lip liner or lipstick.

“It’s very subtle. I try to create a natural look...” she said. “I’m changing people’s lives for the better. They feel good about themselves.”

Tacia said permanent cosmetics has become mainstream.

City Attorney Phil Bleyhl said he will present the council with two ordinances Thursday. One would allow an exception to the tattoo ban for permanent cosmetics; the other would repeal the tattoo ban completely.

Bleyhl said similar laws banning tattooing in other cities have been upheld in court.

“It’s not considered to be constitutionally protected speech,” he said.

You can reach Jessie Stensland at or 675-6611.

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