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Council to Consider Open Door Policy for Massage Parlors, Revamping Event Laws for Promenade, Pier

By Lookout Staff

June 18, 2009 – Massage establishments would have to keep all their doors unlocked and provide a monthly list of their workers, while organizers of events that draw more than 75 participants to the Promenade and Pier would need a permit under two ordinances the Santa Monica City Council will take up next week.

The new massage law brings the City into compliance with a new state law that takes effect on September 1 that exempts State certified massage technicians from the City’s permit requirements and application process.

In order to conform to State law, the proposed ordinance also provides that State certified massage technicians and certain massage establishments are exempt from specific City massage regulations.

But it is the other provisions that have nothing to do with State law that could have the biggest impact on how massage establishments are run.

While current law allows exterior doors to be locked during business operations, the proposed law would require “all doors to be unlocked for fire safety,” according to City staff.

The proposed law also requires that the operator of a massage establishment submit a current list of employees each month, according to staff. Under current law, the operator must provide the names only when they apply for an operator’s permit.

In a separate action, the council will consider lowering the number of participants that triggers the need for an event permit on the Promenade and Pier from 150 to 75.

“Legal staff believes that, under current case law, the special circumstances of these venues warrant this lowered threshold,” staff wrote in a report to the council.

Unlike public parks the three-block-long Promenade flanked by buildings and the wooden pier pose “safety and circulation issues unique to those two crowded venues,” staff wrote.

“Opportunities for ingress and egress are restricted, and there are physical impairments to circulation within the Promenade,” staff said. “Moreover, usage of the Promenade is very different from the recreational use prevalent in City parks.

“Huge numbers of people congregate in the Promenade, drawn by the opportunities for entertainment, dining, and shopping. Sometimes as many as 10,000 persons crowd the Promenade's individual blocks.”

The pier, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, also poses unique problems far different from those at City parks.

“The Pier is a long, narrow platform over the sea,” staff wrote. “Points of ingress and egress are located only at the Pier's landward, eastern end. And, like the Promenade, large crowds frequently jam the Pier, impairing circulation, ingress, egress and access by emergency personnel.”




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