Rubdown crackdown: Pols seek new laws to stop illegal massage parlors

Photo by Kelly Marie Mancuso

Illegal massage parlors have been rubbing Queens the wrong way recently, so two lawmakers are seeking enhanced legislation to put an end to such unlawful establishments.

Assemblyman Mike Miller and state Senator Joseph Addabbo have introduced a package of bills, created to curb the increase of openings of these massage parlors that promote illegal sexual activities, after Captain Mark Wachter, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct, helped close down several of the massage parlors in Maspeth and Glendale.

The package of legislation would expand the definition of “massage therapist” and require licensees to be on premises at all times; require the landlords to verify the licensure of a massage therapist tenant prior to entering into a lease agreement; prevent a massage parlor from obstructing the view of their lobby area; impose a duty on the landlords to terminate a tenancy of a massage therapist location found guilty of promoting prostitution within 60 days of notification to the landlord by a city or state agency; and grant the city Department of Consumer Affairs the authority to enforce the imposition of fines relating to the practice of massage therapy.

“These bills would increase regulation on unlicensed massage parlors by allowing the Department of Consumer Affairs the authority to enforce the law and it also expands the definition of massage therapist to require these illegal parlors to be licensed as opposed to just opening up another massage parlor wherever possible,” Miller said.

“Illegal massage parlors have plagued our communities for too long, and it is time we show them that they have no place on our local streets,” Addabbo said. “While identifying these facilities is the first step toward shutting them down, enforcement has been the downfall due to current regulations that tie the hands of law enforcement officials behind their backs. This package of bills will help remedy that and show those who operate these illegal facilities that they will not get away with breaking the law.”

The 104th Precinct began cracking down on illegal massage parlors after many community complaints about what they feared may be going on in their neighborhoods.

“I would like to thank Assemblyman Mike Miller for taking an active role in trying to change the law to make the community a better place to live,” Wachter said in a statement. “I also appreciate all the members of the community for their support and assistance in identifying these locations that are violating the law. This effort of the police, elected officials and the community working together is a great example of how collectively we can solve these issues.”