Quick Note: Zoning Psychics

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An interesting business article about fortune-telling in Will County, Illinois (that would be around Joliet for those unfamiliar with Illinois) caught my eye today. It seems the Will County Board have decided that all new businesses offering any sort of psychic service, from astrology to “magic mediunship”, can only open in a commercial district.

“If you want to get paid to read fortunes in Will County, you’ll have to open up shop in a commercial district. Before a zoning ordinance mandating that was approved by the County Board last week, those who dealt in the occult could pretty much do it anywhere. But the change came as the county decided to go over its long list of ordinances — some of which were outdated because they were enacted when the county was mostly rural and didn’t take into account such “new age” businesses as tattoo parlors, body piercing studios, dog watchers and, yes, fortunetellers.”

To avoid an uproar, the board allowed pre-existing businesses (about 11 or so) to be grandfathered in. Still, this places a significant hardship on a rather transient industry that is often based in the home of the practitioner. It would be little wonder that in these tough times, and with psychic and spiritual services seemingly weathering the storm well, more and more folks trained in tarot or astrology would decide to supplement their income. Indeed, David Dubois, Will County Land Use Department supervisor says that increased interest in people (legally) opening these businesses is what prompted the change.

“The change in law regarding fortunetellers and tarot readers began after several people had inquired about opening such businesses, said David Dubois, Will County Land Use Department supervisor.”

The County Board no doubt thinks this will discourage “blight” in residential areas (by restricting not only fortunetelling but many other potentially home-based businesses) while boosting revenue in commercial districts, but I think they’ll be somewhat disappointed. Having to rent a separate space for a business that can often see rather sporadic revenue is often a non-starter for most (honest) psychic or fortune-telling individuals. What I predict will happen (using no psychic powers I might add) is that many of these would-be fortunetellers (not to mention the dog-walkers and tattoo/piercing artists) will simply go underground. Working quietly for cash, and denying the County tax and licensing revenue they could have reaped from a less restrictive measure. The whole issue strikes me as somewhat discriminatory against folks who largely come from and service low-income areas (how many tattoo parlors or tarot-readers are going to open up shop in a McMansion). A disappointing measure, that in these times could be disastrous for families living on the edge of solvency. Yet another entry into the quiet war against psychics and seers.