Councilman Gary Singh wants a curfew imposed on massage parlors operating in Manteca.
Singh is concerned that not all of the 17 plus massage parlors that are located in the city stay within the law. During Tuesday’s council meeting Singh indicated that he’s gone past massage parlor locations late at night that are still open for business.
Some cities — including Modesto — ban massage parlors from operating from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Over the years merchants in the downtown area have complained about massage parlors — since closed down — that tended to only open after sundown.
Three years ago a massage parlor on Historical Plaza Way closed after Manteca Police investigated claims of women being forced to conduct sex acts. Police investigated but none of the women employed said that was the case. The massage parlor closed shortly thereafter.
Last year in Ripon, a massage parlor located in the Save Mart shopping center closed after a police operation.
Singh, after Tuesday’s council meeting, said the city needed to take steps to make sure prostitution in any form isn’t taking place at massage parlors. He believes restricting hours of operation would weed out those most likely to break the law.
City Manager Tim Ogden said he will research massage parlor ordinances in other cities regarding if — and how — they regulate operating hours.
Law enforcement has noted the advent of Internet sites such as rubmap.com provides explicit reviews if a massage parlor goes beyond a basic massage. The membership site over the years has contained a number of references to specific massage parlors that have operated in Manteca regarding a willingness to perform illegal acts. Attached to them are ratings that customers give them for various sex acts along with an area for typed comments that leave nothing to the imagination.
The website per se can’t be used to prosecute a business for conducting prostitution. That’s because it consists of second person reviews that can’t be verified by law enforcement and no crime was witnessed.
Those owners that opt to allow prostitution at massage parlors have become much more savvy over the years. They make sure they keep the outside of their businesses in tip-top shape as well as make sure there are no residue spillover of issues such as loitering, drug use and such outside that spills over into neighborhoods to spark complaints.
Unlike street walkers who ply their trade in motel rooms, massage parlors offer a legitimate business to mask illicit activity.
The end result has been making it more difficult for law enforcement to detect and secure evidence that prostitution is taking place. Sting operations — while they still occur — are far and few between due to their effectiveness being blunted by operators well versed in how police conduct investigations.
Dealing with the proliferation of massage parlors that can provide a cover for prostitution has been vexing cities in recent years.
Modesto, struggling to stem prostitution, in 2015 imposed a moratorium on all new massage parlors from opening as well as prohibiting existing massage parlors from relocating or expanding.
A complete ban, they realized, would punish the majority of massage parlors operating legitimately due to the illegal acts of a few. Eight months later they lifted the ban and imposed new regulations that legitimate operators readily complied with including renewing their licenses annually and passing a criminal background check. The changes also included prohibiting massage parlors from operating from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
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