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Our View: City is right to take look at parlors

Posted: February 6, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 6, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Santa Clarita’s City Council took the right action at its Jan. 25 meeting, when it voted to approve a new, tougher ordinance governing the city’s massage parlors.

We expect council members will follow up that action by giving the ordinance final approval at Tuesday’s meeting. And we urge local law enforcement to be vigilant in strictly enforcing the new law.

The number of massage parlors in Santa Clarita has exploded in recent years. Currently, 37 massage businesses operate in the city, with another three applications pending.

Under the proposed ordinance, all employees at massage parlors would have to be licensed as either a massage therapist or a massage practitioner with the California Massage Therapy Council. Employees at existing businesses would have one year to comply with the new law.

The ordinance would require each establishment to keep a current list of all employees in English, as well as a service list detailing services offered, price for those services and the length of time it takes to provide those services.

Current law doesn’t give the city the power to dictate the number of massage establishments that can operate in Santa Clarita, so the new ordinance instead gives law enforcement greater authority to regulate them.

Under the proposed ordinance, massage parlors found to be offering illicit services could be issued an administrative citation. Continued flouting of the law would result in either revocation or nonrenewal of an existing license.

Some might question the city’s wisdom in seeking to regulate this community’s massage spots. Some might even view it as government overstepping its authority.

What cannot be denied, however, is that prostitution remains an issue in Santa Clarita, and that at least some of it centers around some local massage spots.

According to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ronald Shaffer, 13 arrests were made during about two dozen sting operations conducted in Santa Clarita massage parlors in 2010. Most of those arrests were for prostitution.

Why crack down on local massage spots? Because the vast majority of massage therapists and massage practitioners operating locally are legitimate and operating within the law.

To allow even a small number of massage parlors to get away with offering illicit services tarnishes the reputation of the entire industry.

Prostitution, when left unchecked, fosters an environment that allows other criminal activities to flourish.

And ultimately, allowing prostitution to go unchecked and unchallenged gives the entire community a black eye. In the long term, it could have a negative economic impact as prospective businesses are discouraged from coming here.

Local law enforcement already does an admirable job of keeping an eye on existing massage businesses through regular checks.

With the new ordinance in place and increased enforcement powers, we would encourage authorities to become even more vigilant in making sure our massage parlors are operating within the law.

Members of the City Council have a chance Tuesday to help local business, and ultimately, to help ensure the quality of life for everyone in Santa Clarita. It begins by voting this long-overdue ordinance into law.


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