San Jose massage parlor crackdown

A new report from San Jose Police shows there are nearly 300 massage parlors operating throughout the city.
Police have shut down 21 massage parlors in the past three years. They were suspected of prostitution, and officers received dozens of complaints against the businesses.

At Tuesday night's San Jose City Council meeting, police said there's a growing number of massage parlors that fronting as illegal sex shops.

"As far as quality of life crimes go, this is absolutely right up there," said Lt. Mike Sullivan of San Jose Police "It's very important. when you are talking about children involved in prostitution and human trafficking, it is priority number one."

San Jose Police presented a map showing the 295 massage parlors in the city.
The map included 11 hot spots, identified by police. Many of them are in clusters, with up to 15 massage parlors within blocks of each other.

"We are seeing concentration of massage parlors throughout the city," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. "In West San Jose, along Alum Rock and in East San Jose on Senter Road."

Now, that the state has allowed cities to regulate massage parlors, the City of San Jose is tightening its rules. Patrons must enter only through the front door. Massage tables must be at least two feet from each wall, Sleeping quarters are banned. Businesses must be at least 200 feet away from homes and 500 feet away from schools.

"Massage parlors are a real problem for neighboring businesses who observe activity. It's a real problem if we think sex trafficking may be happening," said Liccardo.

This year, police have shut down Lux Spa on North 14th Street and Heavenly Spa on North First Street for not employing certified therapists.

Dee Barragan lives in the Roosevelt Park Neighborhood and suspects illegal activity at a nearby massage parlor.

"Definitely suspicious hours, when a parking lot should be empty, it's full of vehicles, it's past midnight," said Barragan. "You have windows that are blacked out."

She's surprised to hear the high number of parlors in San Jose and is hoping that number can be lowered.

"It's all about safety," said Barragan. "We don't want our neighborhoods to be exploited."

The City of San Jose is also considering whether a massage parlor can open in the same location as one that has been closed down because of illegal activity. Police are sending letters to businesses, alerting them of the new rules.