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Governor Brown Signs Legislation Restoring Cities’ Authority to Regulate Massage Therapy Businesses

September 18, 2014
California cities today regained the land use authority to regulate massage therapy establishments in their communities when Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 1147 by Assembly members Susan Bonilla, Jimmy Gomez and Chris Holden.
League President and Arroyo Grande Mayor Tony Ferrara immediately commended the Governor’s action. “This is one of the issues the League board spoke with the Governor about in April and we appreciate his recognition that local control in this matter is imperative to public safety. We also appreciate the work of the Assembly Member Bonilla, as well as Assembly members Gomez and Holden for their efforts to move this bill through the Legislature. Our cities once again have the power to regulate massage businesses just as we can regulate other businesses in our jurisdictions. This will help keep our residents safe and protect the people who work in the massage therapy industry.”

AB 1147 closes the loophole in existing law that allowed illicit massage and human trafficking to flourish in communities. It also supports the balance between the state regulating the certification of massage professionals through the California Massage Therapy Council and the local regulation of massage businesses.

In brief AB 1147:
  • Changes the make-up of the CAMTC board so that it more fairly represents stakeholders including adding a representative from the California Police Chiefs Association and a representative from an anti-human trafficking organization);
  • Returns local land use authority by authorizing local governments to require conditional use permits, regulate hours of operation and hold owners of establishments accountable for the actions of their employees and more; and
  • Requires the revocation of certificates for convicted sex offenders and the denial of a certificate for registered sex offenders.
Assembly Member Susan Bonilla championed the issue along with her colleagues. “Today marks the day that we give the cities and counties back the control they need to prevent crime in their communities, while taking steps to restore the image of the legitimate massage profession, which is an established and valuable healing art that has had its reputation unfairly tarnished by criminals.”

Assembly Member Jimmy Gomez expressed the following: “This law is now a fundamental reform of the massage therapy industry that affects communities all over California where illegitimate massage businesses exist. Our Assembly Bill 1147 returns land use authority back to local governments, where it belongs, so human trafficking and other illicit activity can be eradicated. I also want to thank the League of Cities for their dogged determination to remedy this challenge.”

Assembly Member Holden also commended the Governor. “I thank Governor Brown for seeing the impact of illicit massage businesses on our communities and signing AB 1147. I have seen the impact these businesses have in my own community. They have proliferated in numbers beyond what is reasonable and made it easy for prostitution to thrive. This is why I am proud of the work we have done to make this bill the law of the land.”

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