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Massage parlor concerns prompt ordinance
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Ripon will soon have a law in place for massage businesses.
City Council recently approved the introduction of an ordinance that will require owners and operators to have proper certifications and, in some cases, background checks as conducted by the Ripon Police Department.
“This ordinance is important,” Chief Ed Ormonde said at the April 12 meeting. “It will give police more ability to regulate such businesses in the city.”
Folks were concerned about the current conditions, suspecting that one or even more massage businesses possibly engaged in illicit activity.
Kimberly Delong, for one, listed a host of red flags, from long hours to the advertisements mentioning “the ethnicity and attractiveness of the girls.”
The new ordinance, once enacted, will require anyone who performs a massage within city limits to have certification from the California Massage Therapy Council.
This certification must also be properly displayed at the business.
Owners and operators without qualified certified massage therapists, in this case, would have to obtain a Massage Business Permit from the Chief of Police, at which a background investigation would be part of the process.
Hours of operation would be prohibited from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.
A certified roster listing therapists at the business would be necessary. “This is a good way to verify the employees and to make sure that the correct person working is certified,” Deputy City Attorney Stacy Henderson said.
Councilman Mike Restuccia questioned the ‘Doors and Windows’ part of the ordinance, which read: “During business hours, the entry door to the Massage Business shall remain unlocked and unobstructed unless there is no individual available to monitor the Reception Area on behalf of the business.”
He believed it wasn’t right to have a client behind locked doors.
Henderson explained the point to this item. “If there’s only one masseuse and their client, with no one to monitor the front lobby, they have the right to protect themselves and their items by locking the door – only if there is no one there to monitor the lobby,” she said.
Council’s next step is for a second reading before adopting the ordinance at the May meeting.
Prior to that, Henderson said she’d like to revisit the section on locked doors along with changes to include notifying authorities if there’s knowledge of an employee convicted of a crime as well as the part on advertisement – this item reads: “No person shall place, publish or distribute, or cause to be placed, published or distributed, any advertising material that could reasonably suggest that any service is available other than massage service.”
Her suggested change there would be “advertisements either verbal or written cannot violate standards.”
Mayor Jake Parks added: “This ordinance is good, but I fear for the legitimate massage businesses or masseuse in town and how this will affect them.”
The purpose, he said, is not to inhibit such businesses but rather to support good business ethics.