Sacramento County Cities Fighting Massage Parlor Prostitution

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Recent prostitution busts at massage parlors have prompted Folsom and Elk Grove to issue 45 day bans on new massage businesses.

A recently enacted state law giving cities more latitude to use zoning and licensing rules to regulate massage parlors has caused communities to revisit their rules.

Sacramento County will consider an overhaul of its licensing practices, possibly placing a $1,000 fee to administer strict rules. Legitimate massage businesses are fighting those proposals. The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department used code violations to close 17 massage parlors over the last two years.

Special Investigations Sergeant Jason Ramos cautions that any rules requiring businesses to be run by certified massage therapists can be circumvented.

“By getting a legitimate practitioner with the proper license to open it up and then recruiting individuals, who aren’t certified, to come in and offer other kinds of services,” Ramos said.

Ramos is concerned that higher license fees and added restrictions might affect legitimate massage businesses, but he says the new approach is worth at least discussing.

He says budget cuts and limitations on resources means they can only periodically address the massage parlor prostitution problem.

“We are still able to pay attention to the problem and do a certain level of enforcement but it’s certainly not what it was in years past,” Ramos said.

That makes it even harder to reign in the world’s oldest profession.

“It’s a simple supply and demand issue. As long as you have a clientele who’s whose willing to pay for certain kind of services, there are going to be people who are going to set these businesses up,” Ramos said.