Revamped 'Bathhouse Ordinance': The Beginning of the End for IMB's in Tampa?

The City has continued to move forward on addressing the organized prostitution and possible human trafficking going on in the illicit massage businesses (IMBs) operating along Kennedy Blvd and across Tampa. For the past 6 months, Tampa’s legal department has received input from local and national anti-trafficking NGOs.

The public comments featured several survivors of human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, discussing their experiences in Tampa and their support for the ordinance. Representatives from the Salvation Army and Polaris also spoke.

The representatives from Polaris (which begins at 11:35 in the video below) discussed the problem of illicit massage businesses nationally, how the ones in Tampa are connected to larger national networks, and even read what buyers online say about their experiences in these 'massage spas.'

Later, agenda item 82 came up, and the city attorney discussed the revamped bath house ordinance and creating a diversion program in cooperation with the justice system and law enforcement. Below is some of the main points of the revamped ordinance and the video from the meeting.

From Channel 8 News Report:

"The “bathhouse” proposal which won a first round of approval by Tampa City Council members today would do a number of things including:

*Requiring massage parlor establishments to obtain bathhouse permits

*Requiring permit holders, managers and employees to register their names and addresses

*Requiring patrons to sign a register accessible to Tampa police

*Requiring operators and employees to take human trafficking and prostitution awareness classes

*Prohibiting hours of operation between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.

*Banning property owners from leasing to un-permitted bathhouses

*Banning operators or employees from having criminal records, in particular sexual offenses

*Banning nudity and sexual activity at massage parlors

*Allowing inspections by Tampa police up to four times a year.

*Mandating fines or jail time as punishment for violations"

“Clean Up Kennedy” group organizer Joseph Manson says the draft ordinance is a great first step..."

There were a few news organizations present and they did a couple of comprehensive reports that are definitely worth watching.

The next City Council Meeting is December 21 at 9am, where the City Council will have a first reading of the ordnance.

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