A second round of inspections shows owners of most of the West Hollywood massage parlors alleged to offer Asian women who perform erotic massages haven’t addressed violations of city regulations that were identified by the city’s Code Compliance Division in a series of inspections that began in May. Code Compliance also investigated four other massage parlors earlier this month and found them in violation of city code.
The failure to address the violations in a timely manner means the businesses will be fined $250 for each violation. Multiple failures to address the violations can result in possible legal action by the city.
The violations include such things as failing to have a city business license, failing to maintain a list of licensed masseuses, not having a manager on the premises and failing to meet other standards involving maintenance of the premises.
The massage parlors investigated for the first time earlier this month include one — Just Relax — that RubMaps lists as being in Los Angeles but actually is in West Hollywood. That boosts from nine to 10 the number of Asian erotic massage parlors identified as being in WeHo. Paul Kim of Just Relax located at 1060 Vista St., was cited for not having obtained a massage parlor business license from the city. Also cited during this month’s inspections was Q Therapy, listed on RubMaps as Tahara Acupuncture, which is located at 8549 Santa Monica Blvd. Code Compliance inspectors found that there was no business license posted on-site and that the masseuses were not licensed, which is a state and city requirement. An inspection of West AcuTherapy at 7607 Santa Monica Blvd. found that the business owner has not obtained the required massage business license.
Also found to be in violation in the August inspections was Pine Therapy at 8424 Santa Monica Blvd., which was called out for a number of sanitation violations, failure to have a manager on duty and failure to have required licenses for its masseuses. Pine Therapy, said to be staffed by Korean and Latin women, was mentioned in a lawsuit brought by the L.A. District Attorney’s Office last year against former West Hollywood Sheriff’s Lt. David Smith, who is said to have received “gifts and services” from Pine Therapy owner/manager Young Kim during 2016 and 2017 and to have paid for sex there and at H20 Massage in those years. Smith has denied those allegations.
The businesses originally cited that were re-inspected and found to still be in violation are:
— AAA Robust Massage. 8450 Santa Monica Blvd. Citations were issued for not addressing previously noted violations, such as not having a list of masseuses with required licenses and several possible safety issues. The re-inspection also found there was no on-site manager.
— 8155 Spa, also known as 8155 Health Center. 8155 Santa Monica Blvd. Citations were issued for previously identified violations that included failing to have obtained a city permit to install three water heaters and failure to have a massage business license.
— Apple VIP Massage. 7758 Santa Monica Blvd. All initial violations were corrected but during the re-inspection Code Compliance found that a masseuse’s license had expired
— Be Be Aroma Therapy. 7541 Santa Monica Blvd. The re-inspection resulted in a citation for not rectifying the original violations, which included not having an on-sight manager, and the business was cited for not having obtained a required city permit to install a shower and water heater.
— West AcuTherapy. 7607 Santa Monica Blvd. The inspection found that the business owner still has not obtained the required massage business license.
Code Compliance and deputies from the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station began inspecting the massage parlors after publication of a story in WEHOville that noted that RubMaps, a website that functions as a “Yelp” for Asian erotic massage parlors in the United States, listed nine of them in West Hollywood. That story also referenced a story published in The New York Times in on March 2 about the preponderance of massage parlors in the United States that are staffed by Asian women who offer sexual services. The Times story describes a “$3 billion-a-year sex industry that relies on pervasive secrecy, close-knit ownership rings and tens of thousands of mostly foreign women ensnared in a form of modern indentured servitude an industry.” The Times story revealed that many of the foreign women are essentially held captive, with the massage parlor owners holding their passports and requiring them to sleep in the parlors or in other buildings owned by them.
The West Hollywood City Council on Monday will consider whether to adopt a proposal by Councilmember Lauren Meister that massage parlors and certain other businesses in West Hollywood post “human trafficking” notices in nine languages that call out resources, including telephone hotlines, for those forced to engage in sex against their will. State law currently requires such notices be posted in three languages – English, Spanish and Chinese. However, reviews of the massage parlors in West Hollywood indicate that many of the workers are Vietnamese, Thai or Korean and do not speak English. The proposal would add Tagalog, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Farsi, and Russian to the list of languages.
Such human trafficking notices must, under state law, be posted in 12 categories of business, five of which are operating in West Holywood. They are bars and restaurants with liquor licenses, “adult” or sexually-oriented businesses, urgent care centers, businesses that offer massage or bodywork services for pay and hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast inns. There are 19 massage businesses listed on the proposal that will go before the City Council and eight “adult” businesses such as Paris House, the striptease nightclub, Hustler Hollywood, the sex-toy store, and Studs Theatre, the gay porn theatre.
The proposal would levy a fine of $500 on any business that does not post the required human trafficking notice.