Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa City Council takes on massage parlor regulations

TAMPA — City Council members Thursday voted to look into prohibiting massage parlors from staying open 24 hours a day or having their employees live on the premises, often in a room with mattresses on the floor.

Both practices — along with open offers for prostitution — are characteristic of massage parlors that operate as brothels and facilitate human trafficking, often of women from Asia, according to officials.

Prostitution is illegal, and if police make enough cases at a massage parlor, the business can be brought before the city's Public Nuisance Abatement Board, which can place operating restrictions on it.

But expanding Tampa's business regulations to address massage parlors could help "eliminate some of the business practices that are conducive to that illegal behavior and that's why we think this will be an effective tool," assistant city attorney Rebecca Kert told council members.

"I'm happy to see that we're doubling up the efforts and putting more emphasis on this issue," council member Lisa Montelione said. "There is an underground that exists that most of us just aren't aware of. It's very sad."

The proposed rules are expected to come back to the council Nov. 1.

It's not known how many massage parlors operate in Tampa, but the council's action comes amid a state investigation of hundreds of people with Florida massage therapy licenses.

Two weeks ago, state authorities suspended the licenses of 81 massage therapists who officials said paid $10,000 to $15,000 to an employee of a massage school for phony transcripts.

Officials said the license suspensions are meant to chip away at the larger problem of human trafficking, which is the exploitation of people forced into prostitution and pornography, servitude and debt bondage.

Florida officials say about 18,000 to 50,000 people are trafficked into the United States each year, with Florida being a top destination.

Tampa City Council takes on massage parlor regulations 10/04/12 [Last modified: Thursday, October 4, 2012 11:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Five recipe ideas for cooking with sparkling wine


    With high school and college graduation season upon us, you might find yourself stocking up on sparkling wine (if you don't normally). Though the obvious choice is to drink it all, you may find yourself with leftovers after all the parties are over. These five recipe ideas will use up that grad-friendly bubbly so …

    Sparkling Wine Risotto takes risotto up a notch.
  2. Florida education news: Budgets, principals, vouchers and more


    VETO TIME? Gov. Rick Scott weighs advice on whether to reject the Legislature's education budget. • Pasco County school officials

  3. UK police arrest man in Manchester bombing, which May called 'a callous terrorist attack'

    Public Safety

    MANCHESTER, England — Greater Manchester Police say they have arrested a 23-year-old man in connection with the apparent suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in the city.

    Emergency services work at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig in Manchester, England Monday, May 22, 2017. Several people have died following reports of an explosion Monday night at an Ariana Grande concert in northern England, police said. A representative said the singer was not injured.  [Peter Byrne | PA via AP]
  4. Trump condemns 'evil losers' who carried out Manchester concert attack


    BETHLEHEM, West Bank — President Donald Trump condemned the "evil losers" responsible for the deadly attack on concert-goers in England Tuesday and called on leaders in the Middle East in particular to help root out violence.

    President Donald Trump pauses as he makes a statement on the terrorist attack in Manchester, after a meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Tuesday, May 23, 2017, in the West Bank City of Bethlehem. [Associated Press]