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It is only due to the city’s badly outdated Municipal code that the item is even up for official review.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