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Gov. Brown signs bill giving cities control over massage businesses

New law gives cities more authority to shut down massage parlors suspected of prostitution or trafficking

Cities will have more authority to crack down on illicit massage parlors under a new law signed by Gov. Jerry Brown Thursday.

Local government officials have complained that under current law, it is too difficult to regulate massage businesses or shut down parlors with suspected links to prostitution or human trafficking.

Assemblyman Chris Holden (D-Pasadena), one of three authors of the measure, said such bad actors "hijacked the massage industry and overwhelmed smaller cities who felt their hands were tied when dealing with the proliferation of these businesses." 

The newly signed measure will give local governments more authority over zoning and regulation of these businesses, allowing them to close down bad actors. It also establishes more training requirements for individuals applying for a license to be a massage practitioner.

Tony Ferrara, president of the League of California Cities, cheered the new law.

"Our cities once again have the power to regulate massage businesses just as we can regulate other businesses in our jurisdictions," said Ferrara, who is also mayor of Arroyo Grande. "This will help keep our residents safe and protect the people who work in the massage therapy industry.”

Assembly members Susan Bonilla (D-Concord) and Jimmy Gomez (D-Echo Park) were also authors of the bill, AB 1147.

Brown also signed two drought-inspired bills promoting water conservation by homeowners associations. 

One measure, AB 2104 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), prohibits such associations from fining residents for replacing their lawns with low water-using plants.  

The second bill, SB 992 by state Sen. Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), states that associations cannot require residents to pressure wash their homes during declared droughts.

It also aims to encourage greater use of recycled or reclaimed water by allowing homeowners associations to impose fines on residents for brown lawns only if the association uses reused water for its landscaping. 

Also signed by Brown on Thursday were a pair of measures aimed at incorporating lessons about the Armenian genocide in schools.

Assemblyman Adrin Nazarian (D-Sherman Oaks) introduced AB 1915, which requires the state's education department to consider including lessons about the Armenian genocide and other mass killings in history--such as those in Rwanda and Darfur--into the curriculum standards that are set to be updated next year. 

Another measure by state Sen. Mark Wyland (R-Escondido), SB 1380, specifies that such lessons should include oral testimony from survivors, rescuers and witnesses.

Follow @melmason for more on California government and politics.

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