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Applicants who want to start a massage business in the same location where criminal acts, such as prostitution, took place will have to wait 10 years before they can apply.
Chino City Council amended its massage establishment ordinance on Oct. 4.
Chief Financial Officer Rob Burns said the 10-year wait would minimize the risk of prostitution/human trafficking. The current order indefinitely prohibits massage establishments from operating in a location where a massage business has been shut down due to criminal activity.
Billing manager Nikki Love said the current order penalizes the location and future applicants.
Council member Karen Comstock, a former Chino police chief, said prostitution tends to settle in an area for a long time.
“I think we need to take a strong stance against illegal activity because it becomes a nuisance to our community in the long run,” Ms Comstock said. “I recognize that the majority of our massage establishments in town are excellent businesses.”
Planning Commissioner Curtis Burton raised the issue at the May 16 commission meeting when an applicant, Oak Massage, applied for a conditional use permit to operate in the same suite where a previous business had closed due to prostitution activities eight years previously. After staff investigated the matter, it was found that Oak Massage had no affiliation with the previous company and was cleared to operate at a subsequent commission meeting.
Councilman Walt Pocock thanked staff for fixing the code, saying it was ambiguous and causing a lot of trouble at the Planning Commission meeting.
Chief Wes Simmons said the new order acts as a deterrent while allowing owners to escape punishment indefinitely.
A survey of surrounding towns found Chino was the only entity penalizing a location indefinitely while other towns allowed new massage establishments after one to five years, Ms Love said.
The ordinance revised other sections of the chapter, such as requiring a special event vendor license to operate temporarily in the city and streamlining the application process for a special business license.