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City changes laws on parking, massages

DEL MAR — City Council amended two laws at their Aug. 8 meeting that will affect parking and massage businesses and technicians.
Up until a few years ago, massage therapists had to follow the requirements of the city or county where they practiced. In 2009 the state established the California Massage Therapists Council to oversee the licensing and regulation of massage technicians, but not massage establishments.
Cities have until Sept. 1 to comply with the new law, which requires local jurisdictions to eliminate any existing licensing program.
The state program is similar to Del Mar’s law, which requires technicians to attend approved massage schools, undergo background checks that include fingerprinting and have more than 500 hours of massage training.
Under the state law, at least 250 hours must be from approved schools and a minimum of 100 hours must be devoted to contraindications, health and hygiene, business and ethics.
Although the city can’t require any additional permits, technicians must apply for a certificate of registration to show proof of the state license and the establishment for which they will be working.
There will be no additional charge for the certificate, but it takes 45 days to process. Teresa McBroome, director of finance, said there are currently nine technicians and two massage establishments in Del Mar.
Because the city can no longer require an operations permit, it will lose less than $1,000 annually, something McBroome described as “a minimal amount of revenue.”
Council also approved an amendment that will allow public parking in developed lots during non-operational hours.
Council members first considered a draft ordinance of the new law at the July 25 meeting, but sent it back for revisions because most felt it “was far too regulatory,” Planning Manager Adam Birnbaum said.
“I think it’s too bureaucratic,” Councilman Terry Sinnott said at the July meeting. “I’m worried that we’re putting more barriers to the process than are needed.”
Staff streamlined the process by eliminating the filing of a covenant and clarifying the notification requirement.
The revised ordinance will allow a property owner or business operator to make off-street spaces available to the general public during specified times when they are not being used by operators, patrons or employees of the businesses at that location.
The property owner can charge for the use of the spaces but the city wouldn’t receive any of those funds unless it entered into a joint venture agreement. However, additional parking could result in more business and an increase in sales tax revenue.
The new law is also considered another step in downtown revitalization as parking is often cited as a hindrance in that process.
The new law would apply only to established parking lots, and spaces that have been granted shared-use or off-site permits would not qualify.
Both laws will likely take effect in October, 30 days after they are adopted during a second reading at the next council meeting Sept. 12.