Alpharetta looks to crack down on illegal massage parlors

by: Mike Petchenik Updated:

Alpharetta leaders look to strengthen the city's massage ordinance, but opponents say they're taking the wrong approach.

ALPHARETTA, Ga. - Alpharetta leaders are looking to crack down on illegal massage parlors.

Police Chief Gary George proposed a beefed-up massage ordinance to city leaders Monday night.
 
“We had a lot of inconsistencies with our applications and on the enforcement end,” George told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik.  “We went out and took a look at what Sandy Springs has, what Johns Creek has, what Marietta has.  How do they enforce theirs, what were their problems?”
 
George said Alpharetta’s current ordinance was less stringent than neighboring cities and could invite a criminal element to move into the city.
 
“When you look at some of the advertisements on the email, on the blogs and on Backpage, there’s some indications that there may be some businesses there that we’d want to tighten the ordinance up on,” he said.
 
Petchenik did a quick Internet search and found plenty of ads for so-called erotic massages at locations in Alpharetta.
 
The proposed changes would require criminal background checks and fingerprinting for new applicants to massage facilities.  It would also require each business and each therapist to apply for an annual license from the city.
 
“This is a good time to upgrade our ordinance to keep it in line with the other cities,” said George.
 
Petchenik has learned some massage clinic owners plan to oppose the changes.  Duane Goodwin owns a LaVida massage franchise location in Alpharetta. 
 
He told Petchenik the proposal is redundant because the state already requires similar background checks and licensing.  Goodwin said he applauds the city’s efforts to weed out the criminal element, but he argues this proposal isn’t the way to do it.
 
“There’s a balance between supporting legitimate businesses and trying to protect the community from the illegitimate ones,” Goodwin told Petchenik.  “The burden it would put on the massage therapists and on the owners, to me it’s another fee, a way of raising money within the city.”
 
City leaders will take up the ordinance proposal for adoption on March 18.



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