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New Body Art Fees Don’t Sit Well With Artists

Tattoo shops and artists may soon pay higher body art fees to Santa Barbara County. The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors took up the Public Health issue on Tuesday but many artists aren’t too happy about the possible increases.

At the beginning of the year, the Safe Body Art Act went in to effect that further regulates tattoos, body piercings and permanent cosmetics. Now the Department of Public Health knows how much it will cost to administer the law and is trying to recoup some of the money from shops.

Body art shops like Golden Eagle Tattoo on State Street keep things clean as mandated. There is a log recording the sterilizer temperature and a red needle drop container at every station. Not only do shops need a county health permit, every year each artist needs to be registered but that fee could soon be going up.

“It’s now $125 and they want to raise it to $300 for each of us,” said Permanent Mark of Golden Eagle Tattoo. The supervisors heard from Public Health officials about additional fees like registration and what it costs to inspect and keep track of body art shops and its employees.

“To make sure that they have the right experience that the law requires, that they have the right education, that they understand the right practices, mostly to protect against blood borne pathogens and blood borne diseases like Hepatitis C and HIV,” explained Michele Mickiewicz, Department of Public Health.

One of the proposed increases raised some red flags during the meeting. The temporary event fee jumped to $1,150 that would be passed on to the event sponsor from $25 registration fee plus $40 per artist.

“This isn’t just a little higher, this is a huge amount of money,” said Supervisor Salud Carbajal. “Feels like they’re just trying to take an extra little bit of chunk of change from us for no real reason and it’s a little bit disturbing,” said Ken Knox, 805 Ink artist. In the end, no fee increases were agreed upon just yet.

Public Health will come back to the Board of Supervisors on December 4 after meeting with local artists. “I think the Health Department is there for a reason. It’s just a matter of working with us,” said Mark.

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