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Massage Therapists targeted by new County rules

 


My name is Dale LaVonne Martin. I own and operate Body Nature Therapeutic Massage located in Natural Health Massage & Spa in Old Town Tehachapi. You might be familiar with my name as I have written many articles for The Loop Newspaper under the title of “Pressure Points”. Many of you have responded to my articles and have come to see me because of something you read that pertained to the physical issues you were having at the time.

I am writing this article to inform the community that the Board of Supervisors and the County of Kern have decided to regulate, through the health department, massage therapy businesses in the unincorporated areas of Kern County. While this idea on the surface seems commendable, in reality it puts an onerous and undue burden on legitimate massage practitioners (like myself) and massage establishments throughout the county.

On Nov. 2 I received a letter, along with my colleagues, mandating that I apply for a health permit, complete an extensive application and background check which includes being fingerprinted and paying a fee of $1,600, along with a new business license fee of $166. Oh yes, and this all needs to be done and submitted to the health department by Nov. 30. This permit expires June 30, 2018 and the $1,600 is due to be paid again at that time and paid yearly thereafter. If my fellow massage therapists and I do not comply by Nov. 30, we risk having our businesses shut down.

We are all aware of the vile, illegitimate businesses who use massage therapy as a front to exploit men and women in the very real business of human trafficking. My colleagues and I are wholeheartedly in favor of doing what it takes to eliminate this scourge to our profession.

Does it make sense to target and punish the respectable, hard working, law abiding business owners in the attempt to rid the public of a few rotten apples? Do they really think taking this approach is going to take care of the problem?

The evil doers will ALWAYS find a way to carry out their evil schemes no matter what laws are in place. What the supervisors and the county don’t realize is that they are hurting the “little guy” in a way they couldn’t have imagined.

I believe that there are many aspects of this new ordinance that the Board of Supervisors and the County of Kern didn’t even consider when they voted it into place.

Did they consider that this might pose a huge financial burden for most of us who were targeted, considering that we are approaching the holidays with tax season right around the corner?

Most massage therapists are part time. We don’t do this to get rich. The average massage therapist earns under $35,000 per year. We work hard for our earnings and we do it because we are passionate about helping others.

Do government bodies have yearly budgets? Do they not understand that an average citizen would need to have time to fit a $3,366 bill in their budget?

Most of us didn’t receive any notice or forewarning that this was happening. We had no chance of going before the Board of Supervisors to voice our concerns and opinions before they voted. I know of many respectable massage therapists in this community who feel defeated and helpless because they are unable to generate the needed funds and fulfill the requirements in time. They are already planning to close their doors because they have no way of coming up with these outrageous fees.

It is my hope and prayer that the men and women who cast their votes three months ago will take a hard look at the impact that their reckless decision is having on a majority of good people in this industry and community.

Do you enjoy an occasional massage? Are you a frequent patron with therapeutic needs and get massages regularly? If your favorite therapist practices in the county he/she needs your help. Our businesses and livelihood are in jeopardy and we need our voices to be heard.

Please email the following to voice your concerns:

Zack Scrivner, Kern County Supervisor District 2 district2@kerncounty.com

Matthew Constantine, Director of Public Health Services mattc@co.kern.ca.us

Melissa McCormick, Environmental Health mccormick@kerncounty.com

All we ask is that they appeal their decision and come up with a more fair and reasonable solution to regulate the industry. Your support is greatly appreciated!

 
 

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