Massage businesses in unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County will soon be required to pay for a public health permit and comply with new regulations designed to combat human trafficking, under action taken Tuesday by the Board of Supervisors.
Supervisor Janice Hahn championed the changes, saying many of the businesses had "become a safe haven for human trafficking" for sex and labor.
"Regular, random inspections from the Public Health Department and new permitting requirements will be tools to help us root out human trafficking and connect victims and survivors with the help they need," she said.
Massage businesses will now be required to obtain both a business license and public health permit and be subject to surprise inspections.
The first-year license fee is set at $1,895 and the public health permit costs $409 annually.
Massage technicians will also be required to maintain a business license or a certificate from the California Massage Therapy Council, depending on whether they work behind closed doors.
If technicians are not in compliance, businesses rather than
individuals will be penalized.
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Other new requirements include posting all services at the front of the establishment and only allowing payment for services to change hands there.
A notice regarding slavery and human trafficking must also be posted on site.
Minors cannot be employed.
Currently, 38 massage businesses are licensed in unincorporated Los Angeles County.
The new regulations also highlight how long it can take to implement change. The board asked the county counsel to draft an ordinance more than two years ago.
Another administrative vote — expected next week — is required to adopt the ordinance. It will then take effect within 30 days.
Existing businesses will have four more months after that to come into compliance. Violations can incur fines of $1,000 or a misdemeanor charge punishable up to six months in jail, or both.
Requirements for individual massage technicians will be phased in over a two-year period.
In a separate vote, the board directed staffers to come up with a plan to reach out to and educate workers in the industry and link them to services.