Proposed Massage Ordinance Goes Before Council

Would require all therapists to show proof they are licensed with state or submit fingerprints, photos and doctor's note and obtain permit from city


Massage businesses in Petaluma will have to show their therapists are certified with the state or obtain city permits if a proposed massage parlor ordinance is approved.

On Monday, the council will discuss whether to require all therapists to be certified with the California Massage Therapy Council or submit fingerprints, photos and a doctor’s note to receive a permit from the city.

Petaluma Patch has written many articles about the lack of oversight of the massage industry in both Petaluma and other cities that allows illicit businesses to proliferate. Workers at numerous Petaluma spas have been cited for prostitution and regularly advertise their sexual services on sites like Craigslist, MyRedBook and RubMaps.

There have also been several arrests at Petaluma massage establishments for prostitution and, occasionally, other crimes such as when a spa on Vallejo Street was robbed my armed men last fall.

The hope is that the ordinance will force bad actors out of business, or at least out of town, and allow the police to inspect the establishments without having to obtain a search warrant. If the ordinance is passed, existing massage businesses will have 30 days to obtain a permit (which will cost $80) or risk not having their business license renewed.

“An ordinance would ensure you’re not employing known prostitutes or known criminals,” said Lt. Dave Sears with the Petaluma Police Department and one of the authors of the ordinance. “It's similar to what we do with taxi drivers, requiring them to undergo a criminal check to get a business license.”

Finally, the proposed law would impose fines on massage spas: $100 for the first violation, $500 for second and $1,000 for the third. Currently, workers are cited for prostitution or owners, for running a house of ill repute, but don’t pay fines.

Currently, Santa Rosa, Cotati, San Rafael and Sebastopol all have some type of massage ordinance on the books.

The council is set to discuss the proposal Monday at 7pm at City Hall.

Concerned Citizen December 01, 2012 at 05:31 PM
It's good to see the city finally addressing this issue. The exploitation of Women should NEVER be accepted in a society that values basic Human Rights. For those who claim Prostitution is a "victimless" crime, please do a little Internet research on the Sex Trade, and you'll see the ugly truth. Hopefully, the Ordinance gets passed quickly so Law Enforcement can't aggressively act against these operations. But I also hope the Women involved can receive the type of service, support and protection to show them they can transition from this modern day slavery into a life they no longer have to fear.
The Happy Medium December 01, 2012 at 08:41 PM
I was at the 1st meeting when Diane Feinstein was Pres of the Board of Supervisors of S.F. My life was threatened by the mafia in S.F. for speaking out at that meeting. I have some stories to tell!! I went again ANYWAY to the public meeting, and fled home to Petaluma. Out of working with others to establish the first Private Postsecondary School state approved in California I founded the 1st school, Carol Carpenter the 2nd, and been asked to sit at discussions on this matter in San Rafael. The 1st time this started in San Francisco to get a working permit we were treated as prostitutes sitting in the same designated bench with prostitutes being arrested just to get fingerprinted. I'm outraged what this crackdown on prostitution has become. It only increases fines, fees & procedures for actual massage therapists. There is a new Sacramento Board CAMTC. CMTs must comply- pay big fees to be State Certified. It's worthless! I have clients from the S.F. Sports MD for S.F. Ballet,NBA, & Olympics. I'm fully Insured & was featured in Newsweek, Esquire, U.S.A. Today for my work. I still had to jump through hoops to prove I could do massage and they don't give written or demo exams! King Nebuchadnezar went to desert to find answer for prostitution. He decided nothing could be done to STOP a practice age old as man, ONLY PROMOTE the good ones, let the police take care of the hookers. In San Rafael it takes 3x's of complaints before they will look in to a hooker. I vote NO on more fees!
The Happy Medium December 01, 2012 at 09:20 PM
I am an authority on this matter because I have witnessed and been a part of its history since the beginning. The CMTC is now here. It is imperfect and needs improvement but CMT's already have to pay them fees. Do not make them have to pay additional fees to Petaluma and do not make shop owners have to pay more fees to operate their businesses. You do not know what you are talking about. There is a spa in Sausalito & based on an old law allowing pepole to work without certification they can have a letter from a school admin after only 3 weeks of enrollment. In 2008 the O.P.P.E. papers for Schools wasn't signed by Arnold Schwarzenneger and no new schools can be opened, the ones in existence only signed an oath saying they'd be good & not operate vs laws with penalty of felony if your records were found out of order. It is not going to help to raise fees for CMTs or spa owners. San Diego made "manual release" legal, in Amsterdam health centers for prostitutes cuts down diseases & abuse and it works. You are not going to stop prostitution by punishing the decent CMTs leveraging more fees. It's fine for each shop owner to require CMTC, ABMP insurance, background check if they want. No more fees plz! Stop punishing the CMTs and deal with what you ever you think you have to do and focus on that. If the Petaluma Patch or Argus Courier found prostitutes soliciting in their paper does the paper have to pay more fees as if in the same category? See how ridiculous it is?
The Happy Medium December 01, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Finally, go ahead and impose fines on massage spas: $100 for the first violation, $500 for second and $1,000 for the third. Leave it there. In San Raphael, there was a rule that said a massage practitioner being cited or if someone filed a complaint, the police had to have 3 complaints before they would investigate. Now, is it investigate or is it just after 3 times that person has to pay a citation fee, because I vote for investigation and going before a judge or something with the person who complains must be present... otherwise it is just like guilty without trial. It has been known to happen that people with grudges abuse the law to spite people, even spas in competition with each other, that has happened too. Petaluma will have to decide exactly how they will ascribe these fines with a due procedure. And again, please stop requiring more fees and fines for the CMT and shop owner. Best regards!
Miguel December 03, 2012 at 03:22 PM
I understand there's prostitution at some massage parlors but adding fees and government red tape to a small business or any business for that matter is wrong; enough with extra taxation. On top of that is anyone that naive to think it'll stop it in this city? It's the oldest profession in the world and will remain that way. As usual extra government intervention will do nothing more than make it increasingly difficult for a business owner and more expensive which is passed on to the consumer and will do nothing to stop the perceived "problem".
Concerned Citizen December 03, 2012 at 04:32 PM
The "legitimate" Massage operations of Petaluma should be rallying around this proposed ordinance, and negotiating the terms with the city, to send a clear message to all illegal operations that they are not welcome here, and never will be. I do think that simply providing a valid State Issued license, and paying a small admin fee (say $20 for the Permit) to operate in Petaluma is all that's needed. No License, no Permit to operate, period. That way, any other business attempting to operate as a Massage Parlor can easily be fined, sanctioned and shut down. That will help the legitimate operations, by immediately helping to eliminate all the bad apples, thereby showing the public that REAL Massage Businesses care about the valuable service they provide.
Heidi Archer December 03, 2012 at 08:39 PM
The money that is collected from the fines of those who do not practice under "New" state laws should be what compensates costs for those who are willing to comply with stat laws. A massage therapist should only be able to practice if they are licenced and insured "As I do" It should also be posted in a public place for customers to view, if they want,. C'mon people! Massage already has a bad enough reputation. It makes it hard on the handful of therapist who devote their lives to the healing arts. Jacques (Owner of Quiescence Day Spa)
Heidi Archer December 03, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Jacques and I, unfortunately had to close Quiescence Day Spa due to the lack of funds that these places took away from us.The competition of these places in the Petaluma area drained our fight to keep an extraordinary healing practice alive. It's a shame because we had a huge amount of clients who depended upon us. We both still carry our state certificates and our ABMP insurance for what is left of our guests and anyone who still wants to book appointments can find us on the web,Facebook, or Yelp. We love you all..... Jacques and Heidi (Quiescence Day Spa)
Heidi Archer December 03, 2012 at 09:02 PM
I vote YES! Make those massage therapist follow guidlines. As massage therapy becomes more recognized as an enormous contribution in the health industry "Holistic Health", People should Have to jump through hoops to practice massage. Remember, the people on the massage table are the most vulnerable, Peace! Jacques and Heidi Quiescence Day Spa.
Heidi Archer December 03, 2012 at 09:08 PM
I don't mind paying the fees to keep massage therapy sacred. It is a beautiful thing and any good thing in life, you have to work hard for it usually. Jacques and Heidi (Quiescence Day Spa) A small price to pay, rather than loosing a business over it.....
Heidi Archer December 03, 2012 at 09:21 PM
I disagree! I believe it will keep the prostitution a bit more seperate from the business world, and leave it in the underground world. This will allow for the legitimate massage businesses to not have to worry about the bad reputation that massage therapy already has to fight against. Jacques And Heidi (Quiescence Day Spa)
Heidi Archer December 03, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Yes! Also they should have to have everything posted on the walls so that customers can feel safe knowing that their massage "THERAPIST" has what it takes to practice. Jacques and Heidi (Quiescence Day Spa).
TAS December 03, 2012 at 09:39 PM
This is a service that most definitely needs to be regulated and watched. If hair stylists need a license, why not massage therapists? Many times I've wanted to go and get a legitimate massage, but I have no idea which places have legitimate massage therapists and which ones are just a front for prostitution. So I won't go to ANY spa in Petaluma. Licensing would give me some assurance that I can find a legitimate spa, not a criminal enterprise.
The Happy Medium December 03, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Definitely post certificates on walls, but seriously, look at San Raphael. When you get down to it, they are ordinanced to the Nines and there are Happy Ending massage practitioners both men and women up and down 4th Street. Really. It's been done all over the place and has not stopped a thing. People forget about it the next day. No one is enforcing it. Ultimately it is the police who has to enforce it, and no fees from what you pay or the handful of shops will cover their fees. You think you want to pay to have someone police other businesses that do what you don't do? Quiescence Day Spa? $80 bucks a year from a few spas is not going to be the watchdog. Maybe Spas ought to have a sign that says: "If any of our employees solicits sexual favors or happy endings please call this number and make a full report." And then the Police have to be prepared to handle such calls. I said, in San Raphael they do not respond until there have been THREE calls and complaints against ONE person. You think your $80 bucks is going to count for that? Or are you just trying to legitimize yourself putting your name in the paper. I don't mean to be rude, but I mean to be accurate. And your point of view is not in confluence with statistics and history of what has been tried and done many times... and as mentioned, in the Bible too. Put a sign in establishments. Have a number to the Police. Let them handle it and slap fines.... not fees on practitioners.
The Happy Medium December 03, 2012 at 10:15 PM
TAS, no offense but you aren't up to date. Massage Therapists have licenses and pay fees already. I started the movement with a handful of others yrs ago. Today schools charge as much $30,000 to get Certified. Then CMT must pay in each town as there is no State License as Contractors. Annual insurance $200, some Spas require more. Fingerprinted isn't State regulated @$80 in every city as per city codes. Too many damn hoops to jump through TAS, and it's SO WRONG and I'm so sick of it. Tired of people who don't know what the history having a say in what they know nothing about. Tired of sitting on boards, endless hours of meetings with Chiefs of Police, teachers in schools and practitioners wasting time when i always thought ALL THAT KNOWLEDGE IN ONE ROOM~ We should be sharing what we KNOW with each other not doing what the police should be doing ––> checking for adult entertainment. Practitioners should be educating each other in how to treat common ailments like sciatic nerve, sudden pain from lifting too many bails of hay, chronic arthritis pain in joints, inflammation, cervical radiculitis, plantar fascitis, whiplash, I'm an expert. I've had a few employers say I am bad for business ~ they used to have people return for chronic pain but I take it out @times in 1 session, while others make bank knowing how to market Clinical from wonderful other Spa treatments. I don't hate prostitutes ~ I just ignore them and promote something very different!
The Happy Medium December 03, 2012 at 10:34 PM
Yes. Post certificates, but allow copies too as people need those to work in many places. Post a sign that says if any employee solicits or complies with adult entertainment "favors" or "happy endings" here is the number to call, and apprise the Police to deal with fines not fees for the Holistic Health Practitioner. And sign ought to say the CMT will call the Police if hit on! Protect them too! CMT's need to learn how to move sexual energy in clients and be taught how to deal with these natural situations. I taught it in my schools in S.F. many ways to help a client move their energy. We all have it, we don't need to make it wrong, bad, or be embarrassed. We just need to help keep things clear for the public and maintain Quality Assurance for what they can expect to receive. ;-} Personally, I'd rather focus on how to make sure Spas deliver the best kind of treatments because the public is grossly mislead even in pricey places. There are very excellent practitioners in town and I am sorry it's so hard to find reliable ones. I'd rather focus on hygiene and how some Spas do not wash their bottles or sterilize their mud brushes; or how most of the CMTs doing massage are clueless what is Deep Tissue, what they are doing other than just bearing down deeper, it's contraindications/harm to immune system and tissues by the uneducated. We ought to be focusing on improving OUR business so the public can have Quality Assurance and leave that other monkey business to the Police.
George Barich December 04, 2012 at 02:41 AM
To liberals, they want oversight on everything and state in control of every aspect of our lives, from plastic grocery bags, water conservation gardens, to workshops on eating healthier that few show up to. I agree this ordinance does little or nothing about the so called "problem" but justify city staff time and provide another possible revenue stream. We got the same dog and pony show in Cotati. The city brought in an expert from Sacramento to bolster their case to pass such an ordinance. Fact is, no citizens showed up at any of the city council meetings on this subject to complain about any problem, not one. No residents or business people were there to support the ordinance. This is all a distraction to take attention off the real problems facing these cities like the crumbling infrastructure, runaway salaries and benefits, unfunded liabilities, and increasing taxes. The police claim they are already overworked and understaffed. Precious resources will be taken away from regular patrols to do these investigations and sting operations.
Christina December 06, 2012 at 05:45 AM
The Petaluma Massage Ordinance is a horrible insult to all certified massage therapist. I encourage all therapist to read it. The ordinance basically states that if you you are a massage therapist in the city of Petaluma you may be a prostitute. The ordinance restricts massage therapy to only certain seedy areas of town: such as areas with pawn shops, head shops and tattoo parlors. It also requires all "workers" to be tested for communicable diseases( implying we are having sex with our clients) and restricting massage therapy on the gluteal area. This is outrageous! All massage therapist should speak up!! The CMTC is not the solution either!! CMTC is a baby( only 3 years old) and it is NOT a state license..just a certificate stating you have met certain education requirements. The state is broke and does not want to be responsible for licensing massage therapist. The CMTC is coming up for review next year and may not even be reinstated. Unfortunately, many skilled, long time therapist are not able to be certified through the CMTC....schools have closed etc and they will need to go back to school even if they have a 1000 hours of education. We need a RESPECTABLE ordinance that reflects the importance of quality massage therapy in the health care profession. Also, the ordinance states, if the CMAC is no longer available, ALL massage therapist practicing in the city of Petaluma will have to comply with the all of the Massage Ordinance"AKA,Prostitution Ordinance.


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