Castro spa required to seek new permit after 39 years

After nearly 40 years, the Castro's Always Tan Skin & Body spa (550B Castro Street between 18th and 19th streets) is filing for a conditional use permit.

Despite the legally required public notice posted on its storefront, no construction work is taking place -- the new permit is required because the business offers more services than it used to.

Instead of remaining an accessory massage establishment, the space -- which claims to be the city's first tanning salon -- seeks to become a full-service massage business.

Inside Always Tan Skin & Body. | Photo: Tash B./Yelp

SF Planning spokesperson Gina Simi told Hoodline a conditional user permit is required because Always Tan "went from a personal service use (tanning and facials) with an accessory use of massage, to a full-service massage establishment."

Along with tanning beds, the business also offers skin and body treatments and massages. According to owner Cecil Russell, "the state used to regulate part of my industry," but a change in regulation triggered the change of use. "Basically, it's a formality," he said.

Hearing notice posted at Always Tan Skin & Body. | Photo: Steven Bracco/Hoodline

A Planning Commission hearing is set for June 21, but Russell said he doesn't foresee any problems and has support from Castro Merchants and outgoing District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy.

Apart from seeking the required permits, Russell has no plans to make changes to the location. "The city has been really good to me and working closely with me, so that's good," he said.