Proposed Ordinance to Transfer Authority of Regulation of the Massage Industry From the Police Department To The Department of Public Health, By Repealing San Francisco Police Code, Article 27, and Adding Article 28, Sections 1800 To 1828, To the San Francisco Health Code, Authorizing the Director Of Public Health To Regulate Massage Establishments and Massage Services, Setting New Criteria For the Issuance and Revocation of Massage Permits, Changing Certain Operating Requirements of Massage Establishments, Setting New Penalties For the Violation of Massage Provisions, and Continuing An Application Fee, an Identification Card Fee and a Permit Fee (July 6, 1999)

WHEREAS, massage therapists and massage parlor workers encompass various populations, ages, ethnic backgrounds, gender, marital status, sexual orientation and socioeconomic status; and, 

WHEREAS, currently in San Francisco, there is a high percentage of young women, single mothers, women of color, immigrants and refugees working in the massage industry; and,

WHEREAS, these women are at risk for occupational-related injury and disease, and their clients are at risk for diseases transmitted by close personal contact; and,

WHEREAS, current authority to regulate massage businesses and massage workers rests with the Police Department, whose regulations require massage businesses and workers to obtain initial permits and then requires annual renewal fees; and,

WHEREAS, the regulations require applicants to provide evidence of no felony convictions including history of prostitution, training in massage therapy, and applicants must be fingerprinted; and, 

WHEREAS, there are several components of the current ordinance pertaining to environmental safety and personal conduct in an effort to reduce the likelihood of prostitution, but there is little in the regulations providing for the health and hygiene of the massage business, worker or client; and,

WHEREAS, the Final Report of the San Francisco Task Force on Prostitution concluded that the regulation of massage establishments by the Police Department was a considerable conflict of interest; and,

WHEREAS, the proposed ordinance would transfer the authority of regulating the massage industry from the Police Department to the Department of Public Health; and, 

WHEREAS, the Department of Public Health could assure that health and hygiene issues are addressed among the massage businesses, workers and clients through regulation; and,

WHEREAS, many believe that the massage industry is a public health issue not a public safety issue; and,

WHEREAS, the funds generated from the licensing of massage businesses and workers could be used to enhance current education and outreach programs to support health promotion among massage business and workers, sustain an employer education program and develop opportunities for increased access to health care for underserved workers; and,

WHEREAS, this ordinance enjoys support from representatives of massage parlor owners, massage parlor workers, independent massage therapists and the sections of Environmental Health and Occupational Safety and Sexually Transmitted Disease Services of the Department of Public Health and the Police Department; now, therefore, be it

RESOLVED that the Health Commission supports the transfer of authority of regulating the massage industry from the Police Department to the Department of Public Health.

I hereby certify that the foregoing resolution was adopted by the San Francisco Health Commission at its meeting of Tuesday, July 6, 1999.

Sandy Ouye Mori, Executive Secretary to the Health Commission