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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It is only due to the city’s badly outdated Municipal code that the item is even up for official review.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.

maria Billingsley April 18, 2012 at 01:59 PM
If the group is using the "exterminator" approach to this argument they will loose. In my opinion, the designation assigned to the business, beauty salon, is incorrect as they are not allowed to work on infested hair. If this business has a cosmetology licence then it should be revoked. If it does not, it is NOT a beauty salon. Pretty simple. I know there is a need for this type of service but these salons are slipping through the cracks and are not regulated. For all we know, they may be spreading the problem. No one knows.
Kathleen Murphy April 18, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Martinez - Theater of the Absurd. There is simply no way that business can make enough money to stay in business long - I don't know what the rent is but the space is large and I just don't believe folks who need and can afford the the service will want to walk into a Main street business in full view of all the customers outside of Luigis. That is, if Luigis still has customers sitting and eating a few feet away from a lice removal salon. I predict it will ultimately fail in that location, and will probably bring down a few other businesses with it.
Nancy Perry White April 18, 2012 at 03:49 PM
My concern is the attitude of the owner. I believe that the owner made a comment in the news to the effect that they wanted to move somewhere where their clients from Lafayette will be able to use their services without being noticed....SO, they move it to Main Street, Martinez. I don't believe they have any respect for the community. Please correct me if I am wrong.
nancy shaw April 18, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Theater of the absurd is right! Talk about paranoia. I can't believe the uninformed opinions reflected in these comments! Of course they are not spreading the problem. If the business fails, let it fail on its own accord. Similar businesses have thrived in upscale areas in other cities. At least give these ladies a chance! They have made a huge improvement in the property with hopes of a viable business which would contribute to the city's revenue. I can't understand why everyone hates the business plan or the business owners.
Linda Meza April 18, 2012 at 04:45 PM
Nancy, I believe you're mistaken. I recall something about community push back and how the Lafayette location was going to be Walnut Creek The Walnut Creek landlord, upon hearing from the community, revoked the lease before it was consumated. At least that is my recollection.
Kristin Henderson April 18, 2012 at 05:10 PM
I have my own selfish reasons for kinda liking the business RIGHT WERE IT IS (said with evil laugh), but I sort of think this gesture is akin to the pockets gesture: God forbid anyone but the one property owner be successful. And that makes me angry because the things I too care about are affected by this (indeed) absurdity of operating a town as if it were a cash register of a private party, instead of governing for the public good--which putting a glue factory next to a BBQ place would not be. I also do not understand how a lice salon works if the bedding is not also taken care of? How can you get rid of lice WITHOUT chemicals? What do salons do if they find someone with lice? The capriciousness and lack of public good in the actions of especially our Mayor, in the most unstately and childish "Me and my friends have gotten everything we want all our lives"; well, there's a special hell for people like this. You should be parachuted into the Congo, naked and no supplies, just as you make vulnerable these little businesses who attempt to vitalize the very environment you are supposed to be helming to prosperity.
Brenda Galvin April 18, 2012 at 05:34 PM
Well spoken Nancy, you have knowledge and I like that! The 5 businesses that have targeted this business should be ashamed of them selves!
Paul L Wilson April 18, 2012 at 06:15 PM
How do you deal with contaminated material that are going to be generated on this site? Towels, combs, wastewater, clothing worn during decontamination procedures. Are their any regulations that will assure that materials will be handled properly and not introduced into the general population? Infest spread and reproduce in a never-ending cycle.
Marshall Cochrane April 18, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Well, our grandchildren were actually infected by lice...in Folsom, the school had a costume day and my granddaughter borrowed the costume from one of the Indian students. Well, she caught lice...then her sister got the little buggers then my grandson got them.(Eventually the whole darn school was put on "lice alert.") I won't go into the details but the work of getting rid of lice is really a herculean effort...Anyway here's the comment I wanted to make...when my wife and I chatted about this issue, she said. We just need to make sure never to take our grandchildren down there again...Honestly, we have no axe to grind, but, if our off hand reaction is duplicated by other residents of Martinez, the businesses close to the Lice Place may have a tough go of it.
Megatron April 18, 2012 at 07:55 PM
God forbid someone makes improvements on a building and opens a business that attracts families to Main Street. For shame!
Chris Kapsalis April 18, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Ashamed of themselves for speaking out against a lice salon moving in next to them they feel may hurt their buisness? They should be proud for standing up and speakng their minds and trying to protect their livelyhoods that feed their kids. They work hard and have been there for years. A lice salon, they feel, may hurt their buisness moving next to them, where people eat, try on clothes and so on. This has nothing to do with the facts of lice and how it spreads and how it is removed from poeples heads, but everything to do with compatibility. I belive this lice salon is not compatible with exsisting buisness there. However, if it does move in, I think it should be very descrete and you should not be able to see lice combing and treatment from anywhere you eat, or the word "lice" visable to would be shoppers going 2 doors down to try on hats.
Anne Mobley April 18, 2012 at 10:23 PM
This is not about hate and to state that it is offends me. It is not about stopping someone from opening a business. The merchants who appealed spent lots of money on their businesses which have survived in ths economy for many years. Shame on you for not understanding. Our customers do not want to see a lice removal business on Main Street. Upscale Lafayette has it tucked away in an office complex. If lice only spread from human to human, why do you have to delouse your surroundings (pillows, furniture, stuffed animals, clothing, rugs, etc.) The truth is lice are a human parasite which are easily spread without human-to-human contact. A few years ago, a well-known Martinez resident was in need of some new clothes and went on a shopping trip to Macy's Union Square store in SF. When he returned home and changed his clothes, he found to his horror a louse crawling across his body. He picked it up because a previous Macy's customer with lice had brushed up against it, handled it, or tried on the same new garment that he later came in contact with. Or he picked up the louse from the chair in the fitting room. This is a health issue to have a lice "salon" adjacent to buildings which house businesses that sell clothes or where customers dine. To reduce transmission, lice removal operations should not be located in a dense retail/restaurant district. They should be located in areas where infected clients will not patronize surrounding businesses.
nancy shaw April 19, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Once again, uninformed or uneducated. The lice treatment you can buy over the counter at the drug store contains very harsh pesticides. It is not the best thing to be using on humans, especially young ones. New treatments are organic compounds that are put into the hair and then the lice and nits are combed out by hand using a fine comb. It is a tedious process that a lot of parents do not have the time or patience to do. The lice are confined to the towels used for the process. They are contained in sealed container and then washed in very hot water and then dried in the clothes dryer. There is no chance a louse can survive this treatment. Lice do not hop or jump as fleas do. The purpose of this type of business is as a convenience to parents who do not have the time or expertise to do the treatments themselves.
nancy shaw April 19, 2012 at 01:32 AM
At the salon, the family is educated about how to treat the home environment to be sure there is no further infestation. There are many businesses that perform these services in other cities, often on the "best block" of the city. In san Francisco, there is a lice removal salon in Pacific Heights, on Filmore Street in a very up-scale and prominent location. They do a great business and the community welcomed them. I have friends who are teachers in Los Gatos, San Francisco, San Jose and Monterey. They say it is a great service and are glad to have a service like this to refer their students to. Every school has infestations. Kelly Ripa, from the Kelly and Regis show talked on television a couple years back about how glad she was to have such a service when her girls got lice. I'm sure the business owners thought Martinez would welcome them, and were not prepared for the mean-spirited reception they received.
Kristin Henderson April 19, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Paul, I am being a way bad librarian. What does CDC say about Lice? http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/head/index.html
Chris Kapsalis April 19, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Paul, I believe it is a bio-hazard, lice that is removed from a human body or hair. And there are strict rules about how to handle it and also remove it. as for spreading, human to human infestation/infection it the most common way, although things casn cross contaminate eachother. Lice can live off the body for much more than 48 hours despite what is said here sometimes. I read on several web sites if conditions are right, ( temp and humidity and what exactly is contaminated ) lice can live off the hoste body for much more than 48 hours. But I do believe they can only reporduce on a living hoste.
Anne Mobley April 19, 2012 at 09:11 AM
This is not about hate and to state that it is offends me. It is not about stopping someone from opening a business. The merchants who appealed spent lots of money on their businesses which have survived in ths economy for many years. Shame on you for not understanding. Our customers do not want to see a lice removal business on Main Street. Upscale Lafayette has it tucked away in an office complex. If lice only spread from human to human, why do you have to delouse your surroundings (pillows, furniture, stuffed animals, clothing, rugs, etc.) The truth is lice are a human parasite which are easily spread without human-to-human contact. A few years ago, a well-known Martinez resident was in need of some new clothes and went on a shopping trip to Macy's Union Square store in SF. When he returned home and changed his clothes, he found to his horror a louse crawling across his body. He picked it up because a previous Macy's customer with lice had brushed up against it, handled it, or tried on the same new garment that he later came in contact with. Or he picked up the louse from the chair in the fitting room. This is a health issue to have a lice "salon" adjacent to buildings which house businesses that sell clothes or where customers dine. To reduce transmission, lice removal operations should not be located in a dense retail/restaurant district. They should be located in areas where infected clients will not patronize surrounding businesses.
Brenda Galvin April 19, 2012 at 04:30 PM
I agree Nancy...I for one amongist a slu of others most certainly wont drop a dime in any of the 5 businesses that have been so cruel.
Chris Kapsalis April 19, 2012 at 04:34 PM
I don't believe it is "Mean Spirited" as has been said many times, they are trying to protect their businesses and lively hood/property values etc. ) they do welcome them, as they would almost any business ( maybe not an adult book store etc. ) As they would welcome an auto shop, but just not next to people eating or trying on clothes. They believe it would hurt their business that was there before the lice salon came to their block, to their next door, and is not the right spot for lice combing, next to people eating? We have zoning for a reason, and this will be ( hopefully) zoned accordingly. I think we all now know more than we ever wanted to know about lice, and this has nothing to do necessarily what our opinions are about eating next to lice picking, or trying on hats next to a lice salon, but how will it effect business and people coming down to eat etc. I think these articles have proven one thing. People are effected even by the mention of lice. This , I believe, will effect at least some dinners and shoppers and hurt existing business next to it that sell food and hats, clothes......
Kristin Henderson April 19, 2012 at 08:15 PM
Megatron (hmmm...wondering who that is)...Ernie Guerro did just that to the tune of a few hundred thousand dollars. Anne Mobely bought, at the height of the market, her store. I know Pat English is a favorite around town. And Luigi has invested as well. That's about 2 or 3 million right there, why is that long term investment compromised for something of a much lesser and detracting value? Where's the Republican thinking in that? Watching the meeting on the little 2 inch square from the website, my head started itching. I think the next best argument is this: if the Council had known at the time they zoned uses, that this type of service might have existed in the Downtown, what would the Council have done? What they did about adult bookstores:"spot" zoned it out of the downtown; codified new bailbonds to upstairs locations--the City Council would have made lice removal very conditional. Mayor said "let's not talk about 'those people'" But it seems he and Menesini, and Kennedy when an RDA was on the horizon, did create an "us people" with they and their favorite property owner(s). And we are all "'those' people" so screw the 500 block, among many other solid planning strategies. Who else notices they can exemplify San Fran and Oakland for lice salons and not Historic Preservation? http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/lice/ What Center for Disease Control says about it.
Kristin Henderson April 19, 2012 at 09:19 PM
I needed to verify my theory that thinking of lice has a Pavlovian reaction: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/suggestion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suggestion http://www.headlice.org/news/2003/lousybadluck.htm http://habee.hubpages.com/hub/Does-My-Child-Have-Head-Lice-Yikes http://www.creative-journeys.com/?p=6313 http://health.yahoo.net/rodale/PVN/is-your-mind-making-you-sick http://theweek.com/article/index/213656/is-itching-as-contagious-as-yawning http://www.thenakedscientists.com/forum/index.php?topic=21286.0 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/09/09/BAQTS1AG0.DTL
Penny Warner, RN April 22, 2012 at 11:21 PM
There is no need to clean your environment - this is an outdated misconception that is still in circulation. Head lice only feed on human blood & need to do so every 3-4 hours. If they are removed from their human host, most will die when they miss that first meal. Research has shown that some may survive up to 24 hours, but at that stage they are already dehydrated & in the dying process & will not survive even if they were to be fortunate enough to find a human host. The lice eggs are layed very closed to the human scalp because they need the heat from the scalp in order to hatch. If a strand of hair is to come off the human head with eggs attached to it and it is on a sofa, in the carpet, etc., they will simply die. Usually if a louse is seen in the environment, it is because it is dying (they only live about 30 to 33 days) and have 'let go' of the hair strand and have fallen out. There is absolutely no physical way that a head louse in San Francisco made it to Martinez and survived. To say that "infected clients will not patronize surrounding businesses" is just a misunderstanding of who has lice. Any one coming into any establishment may be carrying lice - you just don't know about it. If I were a business owner, I would welcome the patrons of the lice salon as I would KNOW that they no longer had lice, unlike my other customers. I hope this helps clarify some of the issues surrounding head lice. Penny Warner, RN
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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