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Tampa City Council passes revamped version of bathhouse ordinance

It closed the loopholes that allowed illicit massage parlors in Tampa to operate.

After months of meetings, council members passed a revamped version of the bathhouse ordinance.

It closed the loopholes that allowed illicit massage parlors in Tampa to operate.

Joe Mason, with "Clean-Up Kennedy" calls this a win. The group has been working for months to get these illicit massage parlors shut down.

“This isn't going to solve all the human trafficking in the world or in Tampa, but it is going to make it harder to run a business if that business is into exploitation,” says Manson.

Many people pleaded with council members that the ordinance --as written -- would put victims of human trafficking behind bars.

“If you truly care about the issue of human trafficking you will consider a more sensible approach,” says Julie Solace with the sex workers solidarity network.

Despite opposition, council members felt confident that victims would not be put in jail.

Some of the changes made are as follows:

• They must have a daily log of clients

• Clients will not be allowed to enter through a rear door

• Managers and employers must have a permit to operate and it will now be harder to get said permit

• Must go through a waiting period to get a permit

• Managers and employers will be required to take a human trafficking course

• They will be inspected regularly by the city. Currently, they are not.

• A bathhouse operator or manager is to be assigned to ensure lawful operation

• Set limits on the hours of operation of a bathhouse

• Requires property owners to disclose information and be responsible for certain violations

• Allows enforcement to be shared between the Planning and Development Department, Tampa

Upon applying for a permit, the person will need to provide a photo ID issued by a government agency along with listing all criminal charges they’ve been convicted off.

TPD will also conduct a pre-inspection of the bathhouse and provide a report of findings to the PDD (Planning and Development Department).

According to the city attorney, Mike Schmidt, the PDD will be notifying these parlors about the new ordinance over the next few weeks. Businesses will have 30 days to comply, once they are informed.

Now, the ordinance will head to Mayor Bob Buckhorns desk for approval.

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