Lakewood approves massage licensing ordinance

City has a new tool to crack down on prostitution

Bob Wooley
bwooley@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 7/25/22

If you see fewer massage businesses in Lakewood in the near future, it may be the result of an ordinance approved 9-2 by Lakewood City Council on June 27.

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Lakewood approves massage licensing ordinance

City has a new tool to crack down on prostitution

Posted

If you see fewer massage businesses in Lakewood in the near future, it may be the result of an ordinance approved 9-2 by Lakewood City Council on June 27.

The ordinance, an attempt to crack down on illicit massage parlors, requires all such businesses to adhere to strict new licensing procedures. It is loosely modeled after Lakewood’s hotel/motel licensure program that has allowed the city to close businesses for non-compliance.

Councilors Anita Springsteen from Ward 3 and Rich Olver from Ward 4, who both opposed the ordinance, cited burdensome regulation the new licensing procedures would have on legal businesses as one reason for their opposition.

Aside from a nominal fee, the new regulations require owner/managers to be licensed. Anyone giving massages will also be required to be licensed by the state, and thorough logs must be kept, recording date, time and massage therapist who performed all appointments. Massage businesses will only be allowed to operate between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.

In addition, city inspectors may pop in to any licensed massage business at any time during normal hours of operation. Inspectors must be given access to all licenses and other documentation on demand.

Lakewood Police Department requested the program several months ago, citing a large number of massage businesses in the city they believed were engaging in illicit activity. 

During the June 27 meeting, Lakewood Police Commander Randy McNitt said the department had used a massage-review website as a metric to determine that over three dozen massage businesses were offering illicit services to customers. 

“Back in February, during our study session, we presented on the issue of some challenges faced in the city. We talked about the real problem of prostitution and human trafficking that exists in Lakewood and throughout the metro area using massage businesses as a front for that,” McNitt said. “And we pointed out the need for a massage-licensing ordinance, pointing out that while therapists are required to be licensed by the state, nobody licenses the businesses.”

McNitt said neighboring municipalities including Aurora, Commerce City and Wheat Ridge had enacted similar ordinances and seen a dramatic decrease in the number of illicit massage businesses. Denver has passed a similar ordinance. 

The city's planning department will also play a role, approving locations when new massage business licenses are applied for.

Fearing legal massage businesses might be adversely affected, council asked Lakewood PD to do more outreach after their initial Feb. 7 request for an ordinance.

During the June 27 follow-up, McNitt said that request had been taken seriously, with department representatives making in-person visits to businesses that would be affected by the ordinance. Letters in four languages, which thoroughly explained the new regulations, were also sent to affected massage businesses.

massage, Lakewood, ordinance, police, prostitution, trafficking

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