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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago Massage Establishment Ordinance’

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Chicago City Council

I don’t know about you, but I am getting pretty exhausted by the ups and downs of this amendment to the Chicago Massage Establishment Act process. (More info from my previous posts here and here.) After all the hooplala about the amendment being voted on  in the Chicago City Council meeting on May 12….nothing happened. Well, not nothing, but the amendment did not come up for a vote and there was no word anywhere about the City Council meeting until today.

According to Alderman Moore’s Ward City Council Report, “You might recall from my last City Council report that I delayed a vote on a misguided piece of legislation that restricted the ability of “massage establishments” to operate in business districts.  Fortunately, this legislation did not come up for a vote at this City Council meeting, and I’m told discussions are underway to amend the proposal to make it far less onerous.  I will keep you apprised of this legislation, as well.”

UPDATE: The latest word from AMTA, as of May 15, 2010, is that the amendment did not come up for a vote and this may be viewed as a tentative win.

Thanks to each of you who contacted Chicago officials to voice your opposition to the proposed zoning amendment. The time you took to do this was worthy of the investment. At this time, we’ve stopped the amendment from going to a vote. Your emails and phone calls to city alderman have been heard.

At the same time, according to AMTA, there is still opportunity for this misguided piece of legislation to be reintroduced for full City Council vote on June 9th or any City Council Meeting between then and May 2011 when the new City Council is seated. The Zoning Committee needs only 48 hours notice to the City Clerks office to have the proposed amendment put on the City Council Agenda.

Therefore, the AMTA-IL Government Relations Committee will continue to dialogue with the City to effectively have the proposed amendment tabled (meaning it would not be reintroduced again). The AMTA is also expanding partnerships with City officials to ensure that the application process for a massage therapy business license is fortified and preemptive in an effort to mitigate illicit activity. AMTA will also continue to develop and bolster the relationships forged among other allied healthcare professions and the small business communities that have a stake in this issue.

I will keep you up to date as I learn more. For now, if you are so inclined, thank Alderman Moore for his efforts to make this amendment less damaging to legitimate massage businesses in Chicago!

Alderman Joe Moore  email: ward49@cityofchicago.org

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Thank You
Image by jaredchapman via Flickr

By Sue Shekut, Owner, Working Well Massage, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Thanks to the overwhelmingly negative reaction of massage therapists and the public, including those of you on this blog that wrote or emailed your alderman, today Chicago City Council defeated the proposed amendment to the Massage Establishment Act.

Link to Chicago Tribune  article about today’s vote here.

Thank you so very very much for taking the time to make your concerns heard. The AMTA and the ABMP are continuing to work with our aldermen to address the issue of massage “parlors” without causing harm to legitimate massage therapy businesses.

Thanks you, thank you, thank you!

Now back to wellness, stress management, nutrition, fitness and ergonomic topics!

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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

1st Ward Proco Joe Moreno ward01@cityofchicago.org
2nd Ward Robert Fioretti ward02@cityofchicago.org
3rd Ward Pat Dowell Pat.Dowell@cityofchicago.org
4th Ward Toni Preckwinkle tpreckwinkle@cityofchicago.org
5th Ward Leslie Hairston lhairston@cityofchicago.org
6th Ward Freddrenna Lyle flyle@cityofchicago.org
7th Ward Sandi Jackson Sandi.Jackson@cityofchicago.org
8th Ward Michelle Harris mharris@cityofchicago.org
9th Ward Anthony Beale abeale@cityofchicago.org
10th Ward John Pope jpope@cityofchicago.org
11th Ward James Balcer jbalcer@cityofchicago.org
12th Ward George Cardenas ward12@cityofchicago.org
13th Ward Frank Olivo (Zoning Committee Member) folivo@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 581-8000  City Hall Phone: (312) 744-3076
14th Ward Edward Burke (Zoning Committee Member) eburke@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: 773-471-1414  City Hall Phone: 312-744-3380
15th Ward Toni Foulkes Toni.Foulkes@cityofchicago.org
16th Ward JoAnn Thompson JoAnn.Thompson@cityofchicago.org
17th Ward Latasha Thomas (Zoning Committee Member) lrthomas@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: 773-723-0908 City Hall Phone: 312-744-7738
18th Ward Lona Lane ward18@cityofchicago.org
19th Ward Virginia Rugai vrugai@cityofchicago.org
20th Ward Willie Cochran Willie.Cochran@cityofchicago.org
21st Ward Howard Brookins ward21@cityofchicago.org
22nd Ward Ricardo Munoz rmunoz@cityofchicago.org
23rd Ward Michael Zalewski mzalewski@cityofchicago.org
24th Ward Sharon Dixon Sharon.Dixon@cityofchicago.org
25th Ward Daniel Solis (Zoning Committee Chair) dsolis@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 523-4100 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6845
26th Ward Roberto Maldonado Contact by Phone 773 395-0143
27th Ward Walter Burnett wburnett@cityofchicago.org
28th Ward Ed Smith (Zoning Committee Member) ehsmith@cityofchicago.org
29th Ward Deborah Graham Contact by Phone (312) 744-8805
30th Ward Ariel Reboyras ward30@cityofchicago.org
31st Ward Ray Suarez (Zoning Committee Member that sponsored amendment) rsuarez@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 486-6488 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6102
32nd Ward Scott Waguespack ward32@cityofchicago.org
33rd Ward Richard Mell rmell@cityofchicago.org
34th Ward Carrie Austin (Zoning Committee Member) caustin@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 928-6961 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6820
35th Ward Ray Colon (Zoning Committee Member) ward35@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 365-3535 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6835
36th Ward John Rice Contact by Phone 773)622-3232
37th Ward Emma Mitts emitts@cityofchicago.org
38th Ward Thomas Allen (Zoning Committee Member) tallen@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 545-3838 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-6811
39th Ward Margaret Laurino (Zoning Committee Member) mlaurino@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 736-5594 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-7242
40th Ward Patrick O’Connor pjoconnor@cityofchicago.org
41st Ward Brian Doherty bdoherty@cityofchicago.org
42nd Ward Brendan Reilly Brendan.Reilly@cityofchicago.org
43rd Ward Vi Daley (Zoning Committee Member) vdaley@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: (773) 327-9111 City Hall Phone: (312) 744-3071
44th Ward Thomas Tunney ttunney@cityofchicago.org
45th Ward Patrick Levar plevar@cityofchicago.org
46th Ward Helen Shiller hshiller@cityofchicago.org
47th Ward Eugene Schulter (Zoning Committee Member) ward47@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: 773-348-8400 City Hall Phone: 312-744-3180
48th Ward Mary Ann Smith msmith@cityofchicago.org
49th Ward Joe Moore ward49@cityofchicago.org
50th Ward Bernard Stone (Zoning Committee Member) bstone@cityofchicago.org
Ward Phone: 773-764-5050 City Hall Phone: 312-744-6855
Note: Ald. Bernard Stone (50th Ward)  is the only Committee member that was opposed to the ordinance.  Thank you Alderman Stone!!!!!

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.

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By Sue Shekut, Owner, Licensed Massage Therapist, Certified Wellness Coach, ACSM Personal Trainer

Legitimate massage therapy happens every day!

According to the Association of Bodywork and Massage Professionals, the City of Chicago’s Committee on Zoning passed a motion on March 25, 2010, to amend its zoning ordinance affecting massage establishments. The amendment, sponsored by Alderman Ray Suarez (31st Ward), would prohibit “massage establishments” from operating in B Zoning Districts, moving them into C Zoning Districts only. The vote passed 2-0, but the majority of committee members did not vote.

Massage establishments in the city of Chicago can currently operate in areas typically used by other small businesses and retail establishments in local neighborhoods (B Zoning). If the amendment offered by Alderman Suarez passes as proposed, massage establishments would be moved out of safe and convenient neighborhoods and would be located only in areas normally zoned for commercial and industrial businesses (C Zoning), such as outdoor storage areas and automobile lots.

The zoning change would affect solo practitioners, massage clinics, and businesses that offer massage therapy as an ancillary service, such as spas and salons.

The proposed changes to the Massage Establishment ordinance make me think that some Chicago aldermen still think ALL massage therapy spas, saloons, clinics and sole proprietors are simply fronts for prostitution. For my clients, my massage therapists and all the massage therapists I know in Chicago, this would be a sad commentary on our elected officials view of  the massage profession. As I said in my post, “Massage and Prostitution–Whats’ the Difference,” yes, there are some shady operators that open up massage “parlors” and use massage as a front for prostitution. But those are few and far between. The current laws have recourse for shutting down those types of impostors. It’s illegal in the city of Chicago for a business with a Massage Establishment License to offer prostitution. And a business that operates as a massage “parlor” aka prostitution, can be shut down and fined. Any massage therapist or non-massage therapist that offers sex for money will be fined and lose his or her State Massage Therapy License. And relocated massage establishments to C Zone Business districts will only help shady operators. People can come and go from areas with storage warehouses and car dealers without much notice. In B Zone Districts, illegal activity is more noticeable–and much more safe for legitimate massage clients and for legitimate massage therapists!

According to Fran Spielman’s article, “Alderman targets massages to rein in ‘sex parlors'” at the Chicago Sun Times: Suarez persuaded 26 aldermen to co-sign the ordinance, but some of his colleagues say he’s going too far. They hope to derail the ordinance on the City Council floor.

“He’s probably got one place that’s a front for a sex operation, and instead of going after it with law enforcement, he’s trying to kill a whole industry,” said one alderman, who asked to remain anonymous.

“Just clean up the ones that need to be cleaned up and let the legitimate places operate. I have a large hairdresser that’s trying to come to my area. Something like this would kill it.”  Read the entire Chicago Sun Times article here.

I am sure Alderman Suarez is just trying to do his job and keep Chicagoans safe from prostitution. I applaud his good intentions. However, Licensed Massage Therapists are not prostitutes. We do not need to be hidden away in industrial corridors. We are professional, ethical, health care providers. And we have the required education, code of ethics and State of Illinois license to prove it. Limiting massage therapy businesses to C Zone Districts and industrial corridors would actually make it EASIER for disreputable massage parlors to operate and more DIFFICULT for legitimate massage therapy centers to offer legitimate therapeutic massage!

We need your help to keep massage therapy businesses in safe convenient neighborhoods. The next Zoning Committee meeting will be held on Monday, April 12th at 11am in room 201-A in City Hall at 121 N. La Salle in Chicago. Make your voice heard before this next important meeting.

Take Action Today!

1. Call or email Alderman Suarez and ask him to reconsider sponsoring this amendment. He can be reached at 773-486-6488. You can send him an email message at rsuarez@cityofchicago.org

2. Call or email your own alderman today and ask him or her to OPPOSE the zoning amendment. (You can find contact information for your alderman listed below. )

Let your alderman know that you oppose this change to the Massage Establishment ordinance and that you are happy having legitimate massage therapists near your local shops and retail establishments!

A Sample Email to Your Alderman

“As a client of a legitimate massage therapy business, I implore you to oppose the amendment to limit massage therapy establishments to only 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 and I do not want to have to travel to an industrial corridor to get massage therapy. Approving this amendment to the Massage Establishment ordinance will put a huge financial strain on legitimate massage therapy businesses if they are need to expand or 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. Please oppose this amendment.”

Feel free to cut and paste our sample email or write your own!

City of Chicago Alderman Names and Emails by Ward

1st Ward Proco Joe Moreno ward01@cityofchicago.org
2nd Ward Robert Fioretti ward02@cityofchicago.org
3rd Ward Pat Dowell Pat.Dowell@cityofchicago.org
4th Ward Toni Preckwinkle tpreckwinkle@cityofchicago.org
5th Ward Leslie Hairston lhairston@cityofchicago.org
6th Ward Freddrenna Lyle flyle@cityofchicago.org
7th Ward Sandi Jackson Sandi.Jackson@cityofchicago.org
8th Ward Michelle Harris mharris@cityofchicago.org
9th Ward Anthony Beale abeale@cityofchicago.org
10th Ward John Pope jpope@cityofchicago.org
11th Ward James Balcer jbalcer@cityofchicago.org
12th Ward George Cardenas ward12@cityofchicago.org
13th Ward Frank Olivo folivo@cityofchicago.org
14th Ward Edward Burke eburke@cityofchicago.org
15th Ward Toni Faulkes Toni.Foulkes@cityofchicago.org
16th Ward JoAnn Thompson JoAnn.Thompson@cityofchicago.org
17th Ward Latasha Thomas lrthomas@cityofchicago.org
18th Ward Lona Lane ward18@cityofchicago.org
19th Ward Virginia Rugai vrugai@cityofchicago.org
20th Ward Willie Cochran Willie.Cochran@cityofchicago.org
21st Ward Howard Brookins ward21@cityofchicago.org
22nd Ward Ricardo Munoz rmunoz@cityofchicago.org
23rd Ward Michael Zalewski mzalewski@cityofchicago.org
24th Ward Sharon Dixon Sharon.Dixon@cityofchicago.org
25th Ward Daniel Solis dsolis@cityofchicago.org
26th Ward Roberto Maldonado Contact by Phone 773)395-0143
27th Ward Walter Burnett wburnett@cityofchicago.org
28th Ward Ed Smith ehsmith@cityofchicago.org
29th Ward Deborah Graham (no contact info)
30th Ward Ariel Reboyras ward30@cityofchicago.org
31st Ward Ray Suarez rsuarez@cityofchicago.org
32nd Ward Scott Waguespack ward32@cityofchicago.org
33rd Ward Richard Mell rmell@cityofchicago.org
34th Ward Carrie Austin caustin@cityofchicago.org
35th Ward Ray Colon ward35@cityofchicago.org
36th Ward John Rice Contact by Phone 773)622-3232
37th Ward Emma Mitts emitts@cityofchicago.org
38th Ward Thomas Allen tallen@cityofchicago.org
39th Ward Margaret Laurino mlaurino@cityofchicago.org
40th Ward Patrick O’Connor poconnor@cityofchicago.org
41st Ward Brian Doherty bdoherty@cityofchicago.org
42nd Ward Brendan Reilly Brendan.Reilly@cityofchicago.org
43rd Ward Vi Daley vdaley@cityofchicago.org
44th Ward Thomas Tunney ttunney@cityofchicago.org
45th Ward Patrick Levar plevar@cityofchicago.org
46th Ward Helen Shiller hshiller@cityofchicago.org
47th Ward Eugene Schulter ward47@cityofchicago.org
48th Ward Mary Ann Smith msmith@cityofchicago.org
49th Ward Joe Moore ward49@cityofchicago.org
50th Ward Bernard Stone bstone@cityofchicago.org
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