On-site massage approved for some
For something that is supposed to be a form of relaxation, massage therapy likely caused more kinked necks, aching shoulders and sore backs Tuesday night.
City leaders, therapists and members of the community debated proposed amendments to the city’s massage ordinance for more than an hour and a half at the South Lake Tahoe City Council meeting.
In the end, council members voted unanimously to allow massage at the clients’ location – be it a hotel room or private home – as long as it is performed by people associated with an established, physical business within the city.
The source of the controversy and lengthy debate was that very prerequisite.
Some certified therapists within the city said it is not fair to exclude those who cannot afford to establish a place of business from getting a license.
“I’m a single parent trying to make a living and literally feed my children,” said Tish Tryon, who recently moved to South Lake Tahoe unaware of the regulations. “I am a very good massage therapist and I have a portable table, so what do I do? What if I can’t get hired? How am I going to make a living?”
She raised the issue of allowing massage therapy as an accepted in-home business, so that struggling therapists could legally perform on-site massages.
But some council members seemed to think therapists who have gone through the trouble and expense of setting up a business, and who are easily regulated because of that, should be able to perform on-site massage without the added competition from those who would be strictly on-site therapists.
“I don’t know how to liberalize that without unfairly affecting the established businesses,” said Councilman Hal Cole. “A home business would be purely out-call and would have very little overhead.”
The council directed City Attorney Dennis Crabb to draft a legal opinion on the issue of massage therapy as a home business, but did not include it in the ordinance amendment.
Many local massage therapy business owners were highly supportive of the decision in their comments to the council, and felt satisfied after the vote.
“This has been a long process, and I would not like to see us lose any more ground than we have now,” therapist Gay Romeis told council members. “It’s been a lot of hard work.”
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