In the last days of 2016, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that tattooing is a First Amendment-protected act of expression. The court said cities can’t ban the businesses and also can’t restrict them to the point where they’re all but banned. The ruling was a legal defeat for the city of Key West and an alert to the city of Daytona Beach that it better change its rules against tattoo parlors. Key West had banned tattoo studios since 1966 but relented in 2007 in response to a lawsuit. Daytona Beach’s zoning rules had likewise banned tattoo studios since 1993 and body-piercing studios since 1998. But faced with a 2010 appeals court ruling that said cities can regulate where tattoo parlors operate but not ban them outright, the city came up with a clever proposal. It changed its zoning rules to allow tattoo studios only in a heavy industrial zone out by Indian Lake Road, near the Volusia County Branch Jail, on the city’s outskirts. Or as I call it, the Zone of Shame. Unsurprisingly, no tattoo studio took them up on that. But under the new ruling, the city’s sort-of ban no longer cuts it legally.
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