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.