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Fate Of Martinez Lice Removal Salon Up To The City Council

The appeal of the controversial business proposal will be considered tonight.

A the fate of a proposed lice removal salon on the 500 block of Main Street will be decided tonight by the City Council. The proposal has stirred quite a controversy among merchants and residents alike; many see a lice removal salon as a way to repel customers from neighboring stores and restaurants, while others see and welcome a new business venture.

It is only due to the city’s badly outdated Municipal code that the item is even up for official review. In other cities, such as Lafayette and Burlingame, lice removal salons fall under a “Personal Services” category, a designation the Martinez code does not have.

So when the Planning Commission considered the item in March, the panel agreed to allow the salon under the Beauty Parlor/Barbershops designation, since “in the end, each client wishes to leave the establishment with a clean head of hair,” according to the staff report. “The only difference is that the customer of a head lice removal salon visits the business to remove lice, rather than solely for beauty.”

Since these kinds of businesses use conditioners and other non-harmful chemicals in the removal process, they are not licensed by the state. Staff is recommending that the council uphold the commission’s approval of the business.

But a group of merchants, most of them on the 500 block, are crying foul. They appealed the commission’s approval of the lice removal business on the grounds that “when a customer patronizes a beauty salon or barber shop, they are seeking to beautify themselves,” according to the letter of appeal. “When one patronizes a head lice removal salon, they are seeking to exterminate communicable parasites on the body.”

The appeal was signed by Charlene West of Char’s Flower Shoppe, Anne Mobley of White Rabbit Boutique, Ernie Guerrero of La Tapatia Restaurant, Pat English of Haute Stuff, and David Fischer of Southport Land and Development Company.

The group wants the council to define the salon as an “exterminator” business and locate it somewhere else downtown. But staff argues that an extermination company uses pesticides and other toxic chemicals to kill pests, while the lice salon uses non-toxic products to do its work.

The council meets tonight at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Council Chambers, 525 Henrietta Street.

Kristin Henderson April 23, 2012 at 03:28 AM
Penny, then why do beddings need to be cleaned/treated? How long does the non hemodependent egg form last? Have your read what CDC says about it? I am assuming so since you claim you are a nurse. And its more than that, its the psychobiology of it. To Vitalize Downtown, restaurants and other retailers need to have a complimentary, impassioned, desirous environment. Adult book stores at least increase apetite,but you will note, they are zoned out. What else is not allowed Downtown? I have not looked at the list. I misued "Pavlovian" below because Pavlovian is just conditioning which connotes it is possible to uncondition. The thought of lice brings out *reflexive* biological responses, built into us by nature for our protection, so we can avoid lice. Avoid, find undesirable, run from. The ick factor is universal, like putting one's hand to a stove. One should never get used to it.
Kristin Henderson April 24, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Sorry to be so "verblouse" about this subject, but I remember someone at the City Council meeting saying s/he would sue the City if this passed and that "as everyone knows, I win my cases" or something like that. We who fought RCD in court did a very good job with the appeal and from my perspective, creating the administrative record. Land use decisions are complex. The Planning Department (Corey Simon who make $180,000 a year) used the Central Martinez Plan (aka General Plan) as the legal framework to justify the high density and all the other findings used in that approval--regardless of the Specific Plan edicts. The judge ruled that the City could interpret its own planning documents as it chose. Land use law is NOT contract law, so be sure to read both the General Plan and the Specific Plan economic goals if you form an administrative record--and, btw, you have to put everything into the Administrative Record when you do your appeal--you cannot wait until after the appeal deadline, otherwise it cannot be tried in court. In land use, you are also wrestling with government immunities of sort which even override proof at times. Good luck!
Kristin Henderson April 24, 2012 at 05:36 PM
And that's part of the reason this "General Plan Update", which fingers straight into the Specific Plan, is so frightening.
TCB April 25, 2012 at 12:42 AM
I don't think you were TRYING to be racist, but please know that lice has no ethnic boundaries. It was very insensitive to mention that it came from an Indian student. I am a teacher and can assure you that kids of every race and socioeconomic status are vulnerable to lice.
Kristin Henderson April 25, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Marshall is black. And I think he is connoting that lice travels in closely knitted groups (which is complimentary) until clothes are exchanged with other groups.

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