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Council votes for chair massages

Ryan Carter

Massage therapy will become a lot easier in Burbank after the City

Council voted Tuesday for a new ordinance to relax restrictions on

the shoulders of some Burbank businesses and therapists.


The council unanimously voted to direct staff to come back in

February with an amended city ordinance that would allow businesses

whose primary function is not massage to provide chair-massage

services. Businesses offering chair massages would also not be


required to offer a tub or shower facility on their premises, which

is what the code currently requires.

A chair massage involves the client sitting in a specialized chair

with a therapist providing massage to areas including the shoulders,

neck, back and arms. The client is always sitting and is clothed.

“It’s a straightforward practice these days,” said Councilman Todd

Campbell. “This is a very innocent service and a good service.”

The amendment would require both client and therapist to be fully


clothed during the massage. It also would require the service to be

performed in a public place. Chair massages would be prohibited in

dining and entertainment establishments.

In a letter written to the council requesting an ordinance change,

Merry Clingen, a Montrose resident licensed to practice in Burbank

and Glendale, said the 1983 Burbank ordinance now on the books is too

restrictive and prevents businesses such as beauty salons and

therapists from doing legitimate business in the city.


“I was hoping to meet potential clients by doing on-site chair

massage, but have found that the restrictions on that practice are as

restrictive as those on classic table massages,” Clingen wrote in a

letter to the council.

“So, if a nail salon, for example, wanted to have me come in and

provide chair massage for their customers while they wait for an

appointment, they would be required to purchase a massage license and

put in a shower. This is so expensive, it isn’t worthwhile.”

Clingen was pleased Tuesday.

“I’m glad they took the time to look at it,” she said, adding that

an amended law can only help local businesses because massage

therapists could be a draw.

The current ordinance was enacted in 1983 as a way to hinder

prostitution opportunities linked to a legitimate massage industry,

according to a city staff report.

But Clingen said chair massage is an innocuous form of massage

that creates less risk of lewd, or criminal behavior. She added that

an ordinance would allow chair massages to be offered anywhere from

health-food stores to the Burbank-Glendale- Pasadena Airport.