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Tattoo Parlor Owners Suing City for Discrimination

TEMPE – Two people who want to open a tattoo parlor in Tempe are taking the city to court.

The owners of a building on Scottsdale Rd in Tempe had already started renovating the building, when the Tempe City Council revoked their permit. Citing discrimination, the owners are suing the city.

Tom and Elizabeth Preston got a permit from the city to open the tattoo parlor two years ago.

“We thought we were good. We went ahead and signed the lease and started spending all the money, got all the things taken care of that we needed to,” says Tom Preston.

The couple spent $30,000 remodeling the place, but when a neighborhood association complained, the city revoked the permit.

Tempe assistant city attorney Cathy Bowman says the city has nothing against tattoo parlors. She says the problem is that this strip mall already has an adult video store, liquor store and bail bond business. The city doesn’t want a cluster of adult-oriented businesses in one place.

“It doesn’t have to do so much with the fact that this is a tattoo business, other than the fact that it’s one more business restricted to people 18 and older,” says Bowman.

“We don’t sell liquor, we don’t bail people out of jail and we don’t sell adult novelties, so I don’t understand why they try to categorize us like that. It’s not fair,” says Preston.

The store where the Prestons’ were going to build is vacant. They say if the judge rules in their favor, they want to open their parlor in the same location.

The decision is expected to be made Tuesday.

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