Photo via Pixabay
Photo via Pixabay

Huntington Beach city leaders have imposed a 45- day moratorium on the opening of new massage parlors in the beach town, where the number shot up from eight to 74 in a five-year span, from 2009 to 2014, it was reported Friday.

The moratorium was approved this week and takes effect immediately, the Los Angeles Times reported. It is intended to give the city and its police department time to develop a new massage parlor ordinance and crack down on crime associated with such businesses, such as prostitution and human trafficking.

Massage businesses began to multiply quickly after the state’s Massage Therapy Reform Act was adopted in 2008. That law precluded cities from treating massage parlor differently from other professional service business, such as barber shops and beauty salons. But in September, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation restoring the right of cities to regulate the businesses.

“The Police Department is a little bit nervous about a wave of illicit massage parlors trying to get in before the (revised) ordinance kicks in,” Huntington Beach Police Chief Robert Handy said in remarks reported by The Times. “The 45 days gives us a pause, so to speak, to get a more quality ordinance to you, more well thought out instead of rushing it.”

Handy said police will talk with massage business operators about any concerns regarding new regulations. He said officials hope to present the council with a proposed ordinance in about two weeks.

—Staff and wire reports

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