City Council passes ordinance to curb illicit massage businesses

The ordinance will make it difficult for illicit businesses to meet state license requirements

The Bremerton City Council unanimously passed an ordinance Wednesday to tighten regulations for massage and reflexology businesses.

In detail, the ordinance intends to “inhibit the ability of an individual or business to engage in the practice of providing unlicensed massage and uncertified reflexology, support the legitimate provision of these services by licensed massage therapists and certified reflexologists, enable consumers to more easily identify licensed massage therapists and certified reflexologists, and regulate massage and reflexology businesses in the best interest of the community.”

Bremerton police Chief Jim Burchett said the City of Bremerton did not previously have an ordinance to regulate massage and reflexology businesses.

“It did not allow us to have control where we could go in and charge at Bremerton Municipal Court,” Burchett said. “It [ordinance] gives us a little bit more rapid action when we uncover illegal businesses.”

Burchett also said the ordinance process predated the arrests of four women in June for their involvement in several illegal massage businesses in Kitsap County. He also mentioned how the local massage and reflexology community were in heavy favor of an ordinance.

“They get unfairly painted with this brush of an association they don’t want with illicit businesses,” Burchett said. “Unfortunately, their good name has been hijacked by people that are not health care providers, and because of that, they do suffer some repercussions.”

Local licensed massage clinician Tomas Delgado was pleased with the language of the ordinance.

“The effort made for this ordinance was actually a very good move in my opinion,” Delgado said to city council members.

“It is my hope that we’re able to help improve the understanding of what massage therapists can actually do and help provide the public with the right knowledge needed to understand what is a viable massage therapy clinic versus one that runs illegally.”

Burchett said the current ordinance will make it very difficult for illicit businesses to meet all the requirements that come with a state license.

“We’re relying on the state system to be able to make sure that only licensed massage therapists are operating in our city,” he said.

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