Petaluma rules on massage businesses delayed

Petaluma police will try for a third time to bring the City Council a proposed ordinance that regulates massage providers and gives law enforcement the tools to crack down on prostitutes posing as legitimate businesses.

Monday night, the council sent Chief Pat Williams back again to rework a proposal that would require massage professionals to meet minimum training standards while at the same time help police bust illicit massage parlors.

The council also wanted a "grandfather clause" to protect existing legitimate business operators from potentially burdensome new requirements.

When the council first considered the ordinance in December, several massage practitioners objected to what they said was inaccurate assumptions that lumped them in with sex workers.

The proposed law at the time called them "massage workers," which to them sounded too close to "sex workers." It also would have required massage professionals to undergo a health screening and provide the city with recent proof that they weren't carrying communicable diseases -- something that doctors, dentists and other health-care providers aren't required to do.

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