The city of San Francisco is suing a Financial District massage parlor alleging that the business is in fact a brothel and has been for years, the city attorney's office announced Tuesday.
In the lawsuit filed in San Francisco Superior Court, City Attorney Dennis Herrera is seeking to close the Queen's Health Center at 325 Kearny St., sell its property at auction and levy thousands of dollars in penalties.
According to Herrera's office, the business, owned by Jie Qin Zhou, has been operating a brothel since at least April 2010. It has been in violation of Planning Commission requirements for public access and was temporarily shut down last year after undercover law enforcement officers were offered sex for money, according to the lawsuit.
"Massage parlors operating as fronts for prostitution are a blight on our neighborhoods and put women and the community at risk," Herrera said in a statement.
He continued: "Queen's Health Center is one of the worst offenders. Over the years, city agencies have found multiple violations, issued fines and even suspended its business permit."
The lawsuit alleges that the business has repeatedly posted advertising both in newspapers and online for erotic services with images of scantily clad women in provocative poses.
The city's Planning Commission requires the business to keep its door unlocked during business hours and prohibits it from using exterior security cameras, but it has been repeatedly in violation of those rules, requiring customers to be buzzed in through a locked door to prevent entrance by law enforcement officers, according to the suit.
Undercover investigators were solicited for group sex for $320 during a visit on Jan. 15, 2016, according to the suit. The investigation resulted in a 60-day suspension by the city's Department of Public Health from June until August 2016.
In the days before the suspension was lifted, the Queen's Health Center advertised its upcoming "grand reopening" with similar provocative photos, according to the lawsuit.
The city attorney's office said that the massage parlor has a reputation in the community as a place of prostitution. Several reviews on the Yelp website for the business either express surprise at being offered sex there or use innuendo to describe its services.
"You can choose the massage therapist to be nude or in sexy lingerie during the session," one reviewer wrote. "Price varies as you add on..."
After trying to get a massage for his girlfriend's lower back, another reviewer wrote, "This is definitely not a massage place, maybe it's possible to get a massage, but it's pretty obvious it's more of a happy ending type place."
Representatives of the Queen's Health Center did not immediately return a call requesting comment.