Board Approves Deregulation of Massage Businesses

by ARLnow.com November 30, 2011 at 3:13 pm 2,973 34 Comments

The Arlington County Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to deregulate the local massage industry.

Massage practitioners have been required to obtain county permits to perform massages and to operate a massage parlor in Arlington since the mid-1970s. At that time, massage parlors were often viewed as fronts for prostitution businesses.

That licensing process is now “superfluous,” according to county staff, because the Virginia Board of Nursing has been doing its own licensing for massage therapists since 1997. Plus, officials say, prostitution isn’t nearly as endemic as it once was in the massage industry.

“The whole field of massage has evolved and changed incredibly in the past couple of decades, such that there are a lot of very legitimate medical practitioners out there using massage for all kinds of health reasons,” Deputy County Manager Marsha Allgeier told ARLnow.com in September.

The Board agreed with county staff’s recommendation to do away with the massage licensing ordinance.

“This code is outdated, degrading and redundant,” Board member Jay Fisette said, adding that eliminating the ordinance would be an example of the Board following its New Years promise to break down some of “the barriers to small business.”

Before the Board’s vote last night, regulations required massage therapists to submit a form, a $50 fee, a massage school diploma or certificate, two passport size photos, a Virginia massage therapist certificate and an FBI record check including fingerprints. Now, message practitioners will only need a state license.

Arlington County Police will still investigate any accusation of prostitution activity related to a message business, county staff said.

  • PeterOfArlington

    A county board move with a “happy ending.”

    • brendan

      this might rub some people the wrong way, but you gotta trust the pros.

      • FrenchyB

        Different strokes for different folks.

      • BarryBallston

        Looking forward to a full release of the details of this decision

        • I can’t wait until they remove the draping for the full release of the package.

          • Bluemontsince1961

            I see London, I see France…..

          • DSS10

            They are really extending a hand to the local massage practitioners!

      • Bluemontsince1961

        Memo from the Board to the “practitioners” (hmmmm…”parlors?”)…was it as good for you as it was for me?

      • John Fontain

        Based on the number of comments, the resolution to this long, hard issue has clearly aroused interest.

  • eric


  • Lou

    So it took them nearly 15 years to realize their County code was superfluous? Bravo! Don’t hurt your arms patting yourselves on the back too hard.

    • MyNameIsHermanCain

      The good news is that even if they injure themslves patting themselves, they’ll have no problem get a massage to work the kinks out.

  • Richard Cranium

    A win for the previously underground “rub-n-tug” lobbying effort at last!

    • Bluemontsince1961


  • Wayne Kubicki

    New use for the Artisphere space?

    • ArlingtonChick

      What a great way to repurpose AND collect taxes!

  • MyNameIsHermanCain

    and I approve this message.

    • MyNameIsHermanCain

      and this massage.

  • Steve85

    Yooo all of the comments are funny!!!!!!!!!!

  • charlie

    oh thank the lord this has happened.
    oh wait, i was supposed to have a license? even for out-call?

    • Leroy

      200 roses.

  • Ballstonian

    Just show up in Clarendon on a Saturday night around 1am, buy a few drinks and let nature take its course, costs less and only downside is the morning after.

  • MyNameIsHermanCain

    “Now, message practitioners will only need a state license…and a firm grip.”

  • John de Long

    The Chinese restaurant next to the CCR will close and become a Massage Envy franchise.

  • Kate Murray

    OK, now that everyone has had their funny joke:

    I have been licensed in the County to perform therapeutic massage for 25 years. It’s my sole source of income. I work on people who have chronic pain, athletic injuries, physically stressful occupations, and joint replacements. I coordinate with the work of pain management MDs, osteopaths and chiropractors, physiatrists, physical therapists and orthopedists. Some of my clients started with me at a now defunct women’s health club and have been coming to me for over two decades.

    And after all that time, with a license from the Virginia state board of nursing (certifying my training and continuing education), Arlington was still, up till now, requiring me every two years to: Make two visits to a doctor (get health clearance, return to read TB test) — $$; get fingerprinted (by deputies who were as likely as not to treat me like a criminal) – $15; send the prints to the FBI for criminal record check — $18; get passport pictures taken — $$; have the renewal application notarized and turn it in — $20.

    Yet with all that, people seem able to open up blatantly sexual “massage” joints in the county and keep operating with the full awareness of law enforcement. So why keep inflicting duplicative licensing procedures on people who are here to help you with your running injury, bad back or sore rotator cuff?

    This deregulation is not about enabling “parlors” (and I’d like to clarify that no serious bodyworker would refer to his or her place of business as a “parlor”). It’s about ending the assumption that every member of a profession must be screened year after year, to the point of absurdity, because a some people use that profession as a cover for sexual commerce. What part of that don’t people understand?

    • Really?

      Oh, get a grip.

    • WhoDatMan

      How much do you charge for sex?

    • brendan

      see if you all were smart you would have pushed to increase regulations and fees… similar to the teacher’s unions.

      barrier to entry, if you will, is one of the greatest protectors to market share/income. yeah it’s a pain, but what’s the total cost compared to the number of new competitors that will see arlington as an easy place to setup shop. the number of rubbers will undoubtedly increase (leaving you with fewer customers) and the competition will likely drive rates down (leaving you with a slimmer profit margin).

      i’m really apathetic to the whole thing but seems economically stupid to support this change if you’re an established and licensed massage place and simply don’t like the hassle.

      • Bobby

        Exactly. But worry not,she’ll be ok on unemployment for 99 years.

    • OX4

      So where are all these blatant sexual massage joints? I mean, not that I really want to know. We need to know, for like news and stuff. I’d only check them out to see if they were blatant, and then report back here to validate your story. In the interest of news.

    • haha she said member

      “every member of a profession must be screened year after year”

      • Bobby

        Ha! Settle down beavis.


Subscribe to our mailing list