Escondido, Calif., is taking action against massage establishments and therapists using their certification for prostitution and human trafficking. On Nov. 16, the Escondido City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that will make massage business owners/operators more responsible for what takes place in the establishments and will transfer permitting from the city to a state council. 

"We've put some requirements on the owners so they can't distance themselves," said police Lt. Chris Wynn in a North County Times article. "Quite often, when we'll go in, they'll have six people and no one's in charge." Under the ordinance, owners will be required to have an on-site manager, and his/her name must be posted and recorded. 

To address prostitution and human trafficking, the ordinance also makes the following changes:

  • The doors to the business have to be unlocked during business hours unless there is only one person present and services are being rendered. 

  • Employees cannot remove their clothing or dress in underwear, lingerie or swimwear.
  • The business must have a $1 million liability insurance policy. 

Massage therapists can only perform services posted at the establishment.

  • Therapists cannot receive direct payments or tips from the customers.
  • The owner/operator cannot provide massage between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am or remain open and provide any other services between those hours. 

  • Massage technicians cannot touch patrons in specified anatomical areas, including genitals and nipples.

Also, Escondido will no longer permit massage therapists and establishments, and instead will require certification and verification through the California Massage Therapy Council (CMTC). The California State Legislature adopted a bill in 2009 creating CMTC to issue certificates to massage technicians. Local massage permits will expire in 2012.

Members of the massage industry, police department, city attorney's office, code enforcement and planning department contributed to the ordinance. 

For more information on Ordinance 2011-17, click here. 

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