Responding to a state law requiring more lenient restrictions for massage parlors, the Monrovia City Council begrudgingly amended a city ordinance last week that will make it easier for massage establishments to operate in the city.
A 2009 bill passed by the state legislature effectively put Monrovia's ordinance out of compliance with California law. The city placed a moratorium on the approval of new parlors until it could reconcile its law with the state's.
Councilman Tom Adams called the state law "a damn shame" before voting to bring Monrovia into compliance with it last week.
"It's just a continuation of the state taking away local control," Adams said.
The state law created the California Massage Therapy Council, which oversees the certification of massage therapists. Under Monrovia's new ordinance, masseuses must obtain a business license and a CMTC certification to be able to operate in the city instead of the city permit that was previously required.
The city's prior regulations were a result of the tendency of massage parlors to create "enforcement problems," according to a city staff report written by Planning Division Manager Craig Jimenez and Neighborhood & Business Services Supervisor Sheila Spicer-Batice.
"The majority of these businesses operate legitimately, however, many cities including Monrovia have had repeated enforcement problems with certain businesses offering massage services which have led to fairly tight local regulations," the report states.
Under the city's previous ordinance, massage parlors could only operate in manufacturing zones. But the state law barred such restrictions, so the city will now allow the parlors in manufacturing, commercial regional, retail corridor commercial and retail corridor mixed use zones. Those do not include the city's main commercial areas, Jimenez said at last week's council meeting.
"It would not be allowed downtown, it wouldn’t be allowed on Foothill, and it wouldn’t be allowed on Duarte Road in commercial areas," Jimenez said.
The new city law also governs the regulation of foot massage and outcall massage services, which were previously unregulated. Practitioners of those forms of massage must obtain the same CMTC certification that other masseuses must get.