Pearland P&Z recommends regulations for new massage businesses to thwart sex trafficking

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Correction: The Planning and Zoning Commission backed the proposed changes in a 6-1 vote.

The Pearland Planning & Zoning Commission has backed a proposal to place restrictions on new massage-oriented businesses Nov. 19 as part of an effort to discourage and prevent sex trafficking and sexually oriented businesses from operating in the city. The item will need City Council action to become official.

“I’m willing to do whatever we have to to keep these people out of the city,” said Lety Ler, owner of Elements Massage in Pearland, at the commission hearing about the proposed amendment to the city’s Uniform Development Code.

As written the amendment would require businesses that provide massage services to seek a conditional-use permit, which are subject to more scrutiny and require City Council approval.

The new code would also require the business be open no earlier than 9 a.m. and no later than 9 p.m., windows are transparent and uncovered, all doors remain unlocked, and state licenses and certifications should be posted in the lobby.

The new rules would not apply to existing massage businesses, four of which have been flagged by anti-sex-trafficking groups as being potential brothels in the city.

Proposed rules
The following are proposed restrictions on any new permits for massage service providers:

  • Hours limited to 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • All doors must be unlocked during business hours
  • Windows are transparent and uncovered
  • Licenses/certifications posted

Source: City of Pearland/community impact newspaper

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Matt Dulin
Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018. A graduate of the University of Houston, Matt was most recently the director of community outreach and engagement at the Columbia Missourian and a professor at the Missouri School of Journalism.
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