In an effort to clean up the city's image, Panama City commissioners banned tattoo parlors from opening up shop near major roadways, churches, schools and parks. It's part of a larger plan to regulate all adult businesses within Panama City's limits.
Tuesday's vote to regulate tattoo shops comes in response to a number of permit requests to the city from tattooists and other adult business owners hoping to move into town, including a permit request from David Spears who plans to open Tattoo Tabernacle located along Highway 98 right across the street from St. Andrews Baptist Church.
Spears is now in direct violation of the city's new ordinance, which says tattoo parlors cannot be within 1,000 feet of any church, school or park and cannot operate along a tourist corridor.
Spears, who operates his shop as a religious institution, says the ordinance is in direct violation of his rights, and he says he plans to open Tattoo Tabernacle anyways.
"If you were Baptist you wouldn't have the nerve to tell us baptism is just public bathing. If we were Catholic you wouldn't issue food handlers permit for communion. I find nothing acceptable or true about this ordinance, and if you can't make a just law you might not want to make one at all," says David Spears.
All tattoo shops already in operation are grandfathered in, but they will have to follow strict aesthetic guidelines.
The city has also talked in the past few months about restricting sexually-oriented businesses. That issue has yet to come to a vote.