Foster City masseurs and masseuses will not need a specific city permit to operate or be banned from delivering off-site services under a recommendation coming before the City Council Tuesday night.
The proposal will bring Foster City’s current requirements in line with state code which as of Jan. 1 prohibits local ordinances mandating that practitioners certified by the nonprofit California Massage Therapy Council also obtain a city permit. Cities can still require massage establishments receive general business permits but not one specific to that service.
Foster City police say all masseurs and masseuses practicing in the city’s boundaries currently are certified by the CAMTC so the proposed ordinance tweak won’t affect them.
The statewide massage rules approved by Gov. Jerry Brown last September also prohibits cities from banning outcall massage services although they will still be subject to the same regulations imposed on the brick-and-mortar establishments. Outcall massage is therapy given in a location other than the business address listed in its registration.
Most local cities that previously passed local massage ordinance are currently going through a similar process as Foster City to align with the recent state changes. The Millbrae City Council, for example, unanimously did so in July and San Bruno took up the task in April.
Massage rules have long been a challenge for cities trying to balance legitimate businesses with efforts to prevent prostitution and human trafficking.
In 2008, the state passed a law giving voluntary oversight to the CAMTC and telling cities and counties they can’t impose more stringent or different requirements on massage workers than those from the state, such as having 250 hours of education from an approved school.
To obtain a state certification from the CAMTC, practitioners must submit an application, transcripts from approved massage schools, go through a background check and pay $150 fee. Practitioners must get recertified every two years.
The new state law also lets the CAMTC immediately suspend a massage certification based on “clear and convincing” evidence the holder committed a sex crime related to massage functions. Previously, the CAMTC could only deny an application or impose discipline due to felony convictions. The new rules allow both based on a misdemeanor, infraction or civil code violation.
The Foster City Council meets 6:30 p.m. in Council Chambers, 620 Foster City Blvd., Foster City.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 102