Massage Parlors Under the Scope in Belmont

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    A British tourist receives a massage during a spa treatment.

    Belmont officials have halted issuing any new massage therapist permits amid concerns that some businesses could be covers for sex workers.

    The city council imposed the 45-day moratorium Tuesday after learning that 80 percent of Belmont's massage therapists were certified by schools deemed illegitimate by a state watchdog group. The California Massage Therapy Council says those schools may allow sex workers to set up businesses by selling diplomas.

    Now, 37 people who who said they went to those suspect schools could have their licenses revoked or mdified by the city, The San Mateo Daily Journal reported.

    State-certified therapists still can set up shop in Belmont without the city permit, but others won't be able to do so during the moratorium. Officials say existing therapists seeking to renew their permits also will face more scrutiny.

    Belmont police Lt. Pat Halleran said the city gets at least two applications a week for massage permits. There haven't any prostitution arrests recently, Halleran said, bit the city does get complaints from time to time.

    Council members will consider whether to extend the ban next month.