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Judge ponders tattoo parlor in Tempe

November 8, 2014

A man who wants to put a tattoo parlor in a Tempe strip mall said Monday his business is no worse than some of his would-be neighbors.

Tom Preston said a bail bonds business, liquor store and lingerie shop are in the strip mall where the city of Tempe refuses to allow him to open.

“We don’t sell liquor, we don’t bail prisoners out of jail and we don’t sell adult novelties,” said Preston. He said it’s “not fair” that city officials have categorized his business as giving the “perception” of drawing criminals.

Preston spoke after Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Robert Oberbillig heard arguments in Preston’s suit, challenging Tempe’s refusal to allow him to open his tattoo studio.

Oberbillig took the matter under advisement and was to rule later, possibly as early as Monday afternoon.

Preston said he spent more than $30,000 in permits and remodeling.

“It was $1,000 just to file for the permit from the very beginning with Tempe, so they came out good on it,” he said.

Preston and his wife, Elizabeth, filed suit against the city of Tempe in 2007, claiming the city approved, then revoked their business permit.

The suit said the City Council told the Prestons that there was a “perception” that they would bring crime to the North Tempe shopping center where they had renovated a storefront. The city had no evidence to prove that claim, the suit said.

The Goldwater Institute filed the suit on behalf of the Prestons, claiming the city violated their constitutional rights to due process, equal protection and free speech.



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