SAN DIEGO — The San Diego City Council passed a revision to the municipal code on Tuesday looking to crack down on the local massage industry. The new rules will now require massage businesses to obtain a permit from the police department in order to operate.
Councilman Chris Cate worked on the legislation for the last year looking to clean up the industry in San Diego.
“We understand a lot of the people that are there are victims and we want to make sure we're offering them resources they need to get out of this industry,” said Councilman Chris Cate.
Last year, San Diego police officers went undercover at massage businesses 87 times. They issued citations for prostitution during 50 stings. Another 20 were cited for other violations like wearing revealing clothing or inappropriate touching.
That means 80% of visits resulted in police taking action.
The new rules also mandate inspections and background checks to make sure the businesses weren't shut down in another city.
The fees are lower for traditional shops, but some independent massage therapists have complained the new guidelines will impose a $124 fee for them.
“We want to make sure we're not impacting them negatively,” said Councilman Cate. “I think we came to a good balance in the rules that we're putting forward.”