City of Orange institutes strict massage parlor guidelines with new ordinance

Published 12:20 am Thursday, April 25, 2024

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For massage parlors in the City of Orange, there is now an ordinance where there was none before.

Orange City Council members unanimously approved the measure Tuesday evening that defines the business, establishes licensing requirements and creates paths to planned and surprise inspections.

Local leaders were spurred to the effort following a recent rise in criminal activity surrounding the businesses, including prostitution and human trafficking.

Local crackdown

Orange Police leaders said authorities began receiving Crime Stoppers tips in August and observing an influx of massage parlor openings.

A multi-agency investigation determined there were massage parlors located in Orange County and Jefferson County possibly linked that included confirmed sexual acts performed by female employees for money.

These employees were also the victims of human trafficking, police said.

This led to a January sting operation led by numerous searches across the Golden Triangle.

The following locations were raided:

• Anna Spa (1005 Green Ave. in Orange)

• A1 Massage (2968 North 16th St. in Orange)

• Jade Flower (#11 Strickland Dr. in Orange)

• Panda Spa (7014 Highway 87 in Orange)

• Star Massage (3515 Mockingbird #C in Pinehurst)

• Rainbow Massage (2070 #B Texas Ave. in Bridge City)

• Sunlight Spa (120 West Bolivar in Vidor)

• Long Long Health Spa (5425 College St. in Beaumont)

Evidence consistent with human trafficking, prostitution and organized criminal activity were discovered, police said.

City ordinance

Orange Director of Planning Kelvin Knauf said city leaders began looking for ordinance help to discourage the illegal message establishments while respecting legitimate message establishments.

“We started researching the laws and worked with the city’s attorney’s office and the police department and city hall,” he said.

“We’ve gone as far as we can go under state law regulating message establishments. Would we like to go further? Probably so, but state law does not allow us.”

The new ordinance requires each employee in a business who performs massages be licensed by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

Accreditations or licenses from others states are not accepted.

“That is an intense process to get a license from the state,” Knauf said. “They have to go through all kinds of training.”

There are two existing businesses within City of Orange municipal limits that must follow the new regulations, which also apply to future business interests.

The ordinance also authorizes city staff to go in and conduct inspections to see if the therapists have their licenses.

The ordinance restricts the hours of operation from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Authorities said there were issues previously with 24-hour message establishments.

“You cannot use the message establishment as a place of residence,” Knauf said. “In human trafficking and prostitution, a lot of times the people working there were living there.”