By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer
It is with a very sad and heavy heart that I write this post. This morning, the City of Chicago’s Committee on Zoning passed the amendment to the zoning ordinance that would restrict “massage establishments” to B-3 and C Zones despite testimony from the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA), a representative from Massage Envy and other Chicago massage therapists.
The amendment is now slated to for a full vote before the full Chicago City Council on Wednesday, April 14th that would immediately enact the ordinance.
The AMTA Illinois Chapter and I, and all the licensed massage therapists I know, continue to strongly oppose the amendment. The amendment is discriminatory and does not address the issue of illicit activity, the purported impetus of the original zoning amendment. And the worst part yet is the amendment does not allow legitimate massage establishments to operate in B-1 and B-2 districts (safe and busy retail districts where you can now enjoy your massages). It is still unclear if this means that 100′s of legitimate massage business in Chicago will have to relocate or go out of business!!!
WE CAN STILL STOP THIS AMENDMENT, BUT YOU MUST ACT TODAY! Time is running out! We have less than 36 hours for all fifty Chicago Alderman to hear us loud and clear.
On Tuesday April 13, please call, e-mail and write to the alderman where you live, work or patronize a massage therapy clinic !
We really need YOUR help, fellow Chicagoans! Please take just a few minutes to call or email your alderman or alderwoman today. Ask them to support legitimate, licensed massage therapists and local economies citywide and Vote NO to this amendment to the zoning ordinance!
Here is a sample email you can cut and paste or use and modify in your own words:
“As a client of a legitimate massage therapy business, I implore you to oppose the amendment to limit massage therapy establishments to only B-3 and C Zoning Districts. I value the health care benefits of massage and do not want my legitimate massage therapist penalized for the actions of a few illegal massage parlor operators. I visit my massage therapist in a safe convenient location. I do not want to have to travel to an industrial corridor to get massage therapy. Approving this amendment to the Massage Establishment Act will put a huge financial strain on legitimate massage therapy businesses if they are forced to relocate, would make it unnecessarily difficult for new massage therapists to open a business, and could increase the city’s unemployment by putting legitimate massage therapists out of work. It will not damage illegal massage parlors–it will only make it easier for them sell their illegal services in less populated areas. And it will hurt legitimate massage businesses and make it less safe for them to provide therapeutic, legitimate massage therapy to tax paying citizens like me. Please oppose this amendment.”
Feel free to cut and paste our sample email or write your own. I appreciate your help on this important issue!
City of Chicago Alderman Names and Emails by Ward
6th Ward Freddrenna Lyle firstname.lastname@example.org
A Better Idea For Massage In Chicago
In the meantime, the AMTA-IL Government Relations Committee is finalizing language for a model ordinance that would require massage therapy establishments to submit proof of state licensure when applying for business licenses or renewal (currently not done), and levying substantial fines for violations (also not currently done). Members of the Zoning Committee and a City Commissioner want to partner with the AMTA to address the issues of illicit activity in their wards without discriminating against licensed massage therapists and legitimate massage therapy establishments.
The AMTA proposal is designed to protect the public from illegal massage “parlors” without adversely effecting the business of legitimate massage therapists. But this proposal will likely fall on deaf ears if the current nonsensical and damaging amendment to the Massage Establishment Act passes on Wednesday.