Redmond officials report no known problems in city regarding possible illegal massage practices on the Eastside

Recently throughout the Eastside, concerns have been raised about possible illegal practices within local massage businesses.

Earlier this month, a Redmond businesswoman, contacted officials at the City of Redmond as well as the cities of Kirkland and Bellevue, imploring authorities to look into whether local businesses are practicing with the correct licenses. These include licenses for the businesses as well as licenses for individual massage therapists and reflexologists.

In response to the woman's inquiry, Det. Tor Kraft with the Bellevue Police Department wrote that this raises health and safety concerns including the use of unclean and soiled linens, lack of first aid or CPR certification and the increased injury to clients due to lack of anatomy, physiology and kinesiology training.

In her message to the city officials, the businesswoman also suggested the possibility of businesses not paying taxes and undocumented immigrants working in these businesses.

“Many chop shops are not following city and state laws, and (U.S.) Immigration Custom Enforcement needs to clean this mess up because many of these (undocumented) immigrants are giving the massage industry a bad reputation and taking jobs away from those of us who are practicing legally,” she said.

In response to her message, City Council Member Hank Myers, who is this month’s ombudsperson, said he reported the information during last week’s council meeting on June 17.

“There are two issues involved here,” he said. “First is the usual question of whether these establishments are fronts for the sex trade industries. The second is that foot massages (reflexology) are not subject to the same regulations and training requirements as licensed massage therapists. This issue is raised when what is advertised as a foot massage morphs into a more thorough body massage even if no sexual contact is made.”

Myers, who is also the council’s chair of the Public Safety Committee, contacted the Redmond Police Department on the issue. He said, according to Assistant Chief Kristi Wilson, the city does monitor massage- and reflexology-related businesses and they have not heard complaints or seen any evidence of improper operation.

“In view of the report, I am satisfied that our police are not only aware of the potential problems, but are vigilant in their enforcement,” Myers said. “Additionally, we heard from our code enforcement team who also reported no known problems in Redmond.”

Kraft, along with Capt. Bill Hamilton with the Kirkland Police Department both told the Redmond businesswoman that their departments will be checking into the issue, as well.

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