San Francisco Massage Ordinances

There are currently two laws under consideration by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, one more favorable than the other. Following is a statement by the Coalition of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Practitioners, who are seeking support for the more favorable ordinance, proposed by Supervisor Yaki:

On behalf of hundreds of therapeutic massage professionals and their clients, we are asking your support of a new ordinance, sponsored by Supervisor Yaki (File # 991965, Finance Committee), which would modify the regulation of the massage professions and establishments in San Francisco.

The current massage ordinance was developed over twenty years ago to regulate the adult entertainment massage practitioners and massage parlors in San Francisco. With the emergence of the therapeutic massage and bodywork professions as recognized health and wellness modalities, there is now a need to distinguish between the two kinds of services and provide different levels of regulation.

1. Move the authority for regulation and enforcement of City code regarding massage establishments and massage services from the Police Department to the Department of Public Health. This change is supported by both the Police and Public Health Departments. Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork Professionals provide health and wellness services to their clients and the Department of Public Health is clearly a better choice for oversight.
2. Establish a new service category for Therapeutic Massage Professionals with a higher standard of professional training and/or experience. Currently the standard of training for a general massage permit is 70 hours of training. The new category of therapeutic massage permits would require a minimum of 250 hours of training, more than three times the amount of the old category. Plus, therapeutic massage professionals would be required to demonstrate membership in a recognized state or national professional association.
3. Create a solo massage establishment permit for therapeutic massage practitioners working in a private practice. Because the current ordinance requires significant regulation of massage establishments, costing as much as $2-4000 in permits and inspections, it has effectively prevented therapeutic massage practitioners from legally developing a private practice. The solo massage establishment permit would make this possible.

Unchanged would be the Police Departmentís ability to investigate any criminal conduct by massage establishments or massage practitioners.

The Coalition has the support of the largest state and national professional massage association (the American Massage Therapy Association and its California Chapter), numerous local health clubs and fitness centers, hundreds of local therapeutic massage practitioners representing dozens of different bodywork modalities, and thousands of their clients. For further information please contact: Alison Ross: (415) 440-7563 or Stacey DeGooyer: (415) 479-7652.

Click here for complete text of Yaki's proposed law, indexed by section so that you may easily skip to sections of interest.

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