It’s in Martinez where even little creatures find themselves embroiled in controversy.
A couple of women want to open a lice removal salon on Main Street, in the spot where the quilt store used to be. They rented the spot, started preparing the space for their operation.
“Not so fast,” said City Hall. “We’d love to give you a business license, but. . .”
Turns out that lice removal salons are not on any list of businesses at all within the city’s municipal code, either as permitted or not permitted uses.
“They’re asking us to go before the Planning Commission,” said Sophia Deleuse, who has been in the lice removal business for years now. “They’re refusing us a business license.”
What Deleuse and her business partner want to do is offer a service. But since it’s not a service that is listed in the city’s zoning ordinance, it’s up to the Planning Commission to determine whether or not it should be, according to contract staffer Dina Tasini.
“While the City of Martinez Municipal Code does not identify lice removal salons as a permitted use, lice removal salons may appear to be consistent with barber shops and beauty shops that are permitted within the Neighborhood Commercial District,” Tasini said in a staff report. She noted that lice removal salons in Lafayette, Oakland and San Francisco have received no complaints from neighboring businesses.
“What we do is provide a service that helps children and mothers get rid of lice organically without chemicals,” Deleuse said. There are many businesses around that do this, just not many in the Martinez area. We just comb the lice out and do an organic treatment with a conditioner that repels lice, and that’s pretty much it. We also educate the parents on how to try and avoid it.”
Once the critters leave the head, she said, they die after 24 hours.
“It’s a very clean shop,” she said.
Deleuse said her original plan was to open the shop in Concord, but she liked the look and small town feel of Martinez. Until, that is, she ran up against a bureaucratic wall.
“I’m looking at Concord again. Their city hall is awesome,” she said. “They make the rules, and decide where things go.”
The Planning Commission will consider this item when it meets on Tuesday, March 13 at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers, 525 Henrietta Street.