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City leaders move ahead with massage ordinance

Proposed H.B. law is meant to get rid of illicit parlors while not harming legitimate businesses.

April 04, 2013|By Anthony Clark Carpio

The Huntington Beach City Council on Monday approved changes to a proposed massage parlor ordinance that would crack down on illicit businesses but maintain state-established regulations.

Passing on a 6-0 vote, with Councilman Joe Carchio absent, the multiple changes include tweaks to operating hours and outcall massages, occasions when the therapist travels to the client.

City Attorney Jennifer McGrath worked with Ahmos Netanel and his staff from the California Massage Therapy Council to ensure the city's ordinance abides by state laws.

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"After the last meeting, they wanted to give us their input," McGrath said. "We implemented probably 90% of what they wanted because a lot of it is covered by state law and we're really hyper-focused on taking care of the human-trafficking incidents."

According to the staff report, some changes include modifying operating hours from between 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. to between 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and removing the requirement that employees wear their Massage Therapy Council identification card while working.

Police Capt. William Stuart added an additional amendment that night, allowing certified massage professionals to perform outcall massages at a customer's private home so long as the location isn't the employee's residence and the visit doesn't occur between 11 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Netanel and the Massage Therapy Council, an organization that has overseen most of the licensing and monitoring of massage parlors since 2009, said the ordinance is close to being complete and that the city is on "the right track."

"We have finally gotten away from the rhetoric and gotten down to the idea that we can write an ordinance that protects the legal rights of certified massage professionals but at the same time goes after the bad apples," Netanel said.

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Sunset Beach Junior Lifeguards

Also Monday, more than two dozen people representing the Sunset Beach Junior Lifeguards gathered at the council chambers to ask council members to consider keeping the program open.

"With all the bad that occurs in the world, it is important that we allow such good things to continue, and that is the Sunset Beach Junior Lifeguard programs," director Larry Jacklin said.

Seventeen other representatives, including instructors and 10-year-old junior guards, also beseeched the council.

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