Healdsburg doesn’t see a “psychic palm and card reading” business in its future.
The Planning Commission on a 6-0 vote Tuesday night rejected an application by self-described psychic Mike Stevens to set up shop in a former insurance office downtown…
The commission affirmed the decision by Planning and Building Director Barbara Nelson, who determined the psychic business is not allowed in the city’s downtown commercial district.
Stevens complained that the city is “prejudiced,” but vowed to appeal to the City Council to set up his storefront at 416 Healdsburg Ave.
“How can I not say it’s prejudiced, you allow every business in town except psychic,” he told commissioners after they voted.
But the municipality says they would do the same for other businesses that are not on their list of approved uses. But this part of the article is interesting:
Most cities in Sonoma County restrict businesses that bill themselves as psychics or palm and card readers, and require a staff review for a use permit.
The cities typically lump them in with check-cashing stores, soup kitchens, tattoo and body piercing parlors, on the grounds that they can have a potentially offensive effect on surrounding areas.
They count them as “skid row” type businesses that will not attract discriminating clientele but more unsavory types, apparently. And, in this case, they don’t think it will attract tourists to visit. Stevens said it would be good to have “someone in my line of business”. Mr. Stevens characterizes his business as possibly “entertainment, therapy, or personal services, which include advisory and consulting services.” Well, that sounds like a problem. Since psychics are open to these various interpretation, how CAN you categorize it? Some people believe it’s genuinely a supernatural gift. Other say it’s just cold reading. Other consider it frivolous fun. Can it be all three? Sounds like Stevens wants to maximize that potential. If it’s consulting, call it consulting and admit you don’t have a license to practice as a behavioralist. Call it entertainment and put people on notice that it’s not real fortune telling. Those limitations will diminish your range of customers.
It’s not clear if the municipality is prejudiced against this type of business and is using this as a means to keep it out. All around the nation, local governments DO set up rather odd rules and zoning in order to keep out industries they don’t like or deem nuisances (like mining, landfills, smoke shops, bars or strip clubs). One could argue they have a right to do that. Stevens is arguing that infringes on his business rights. So he’ll appeal.