Three Berkeley massage spas are facing closure after they were mentioned on Rubmaps.com, a site where customers rate therapists based on looks and the type of sexual services they provide, according to an article in the Daily Californian, UC Berkeley’s newspaper.
The massage parlors were served with cease and desist notices last month and had their business permits revoked.
In March, Patch wrote about Rubmaps.com, which includes five Petaluma massage establishments. But none have been shuttered and interim police chief Danny Fish has maintained that none of the spas have generated complaints from residents.
What helped Berkeley crack down on the spas is that the city has a code that requires all masseuses to be licensed, not just the owners. That allowed code enforcement officers to go in and verify whether all of the women working there had licenses. (They didn’t.)
In contrast, the only thing Petaluma requires is that a massage business provides a tax identification number and obtains a business license.
Unlike acupuncturists, dentists and most other wellness providers, there is also no statewide entity overseeing certification, meaning that no one checks whether therapists are trained or certified, creating a loophole for spas to engage in prostitution and other criminal activity.
"Petaluma should have some sort of process where you want to do massage, you need to be California certified (through the California Massage Therapy Council) or require everyone doing massage to be certified," said Gina Drohan, who owns three franchises in the North Bay, including in Petaluma.
"The city is behind the times and just doesn't have the manpower to verify anything."