The owners of two massage establishments in town may lose their business licenses after City Council unanimously decided Wednesday to hold revocation hearings for each: King Spa and Massage Villa, located at 1318 and 1437 Huntington Drive respectively.
The hearings are a result of two recent undercover investigations conducted by South Pasadena Police Department and a neighboring agency, in which Ling Ling Kuo, the manager of Massage Villa, and Mengdong Wang, the owner of King Spa, were both charged on suspicion of disorderly house and prostitution.
These investigations were initiated in response to: "complaints and tips," Police Chief Joe Payne told Patch Tuesday. But it's also "part of regular enforcement actions" done to check "for code violations and operations."
While this is the first time Kuo has been charged, Wang was cited and convicted in 2010 for employing non-certificated massage technicians, according to a staff report.
Grounds for Revocation
Per South Pasadena Municipal Code (SPMC), a business license can be revoked "when the continuance of the operations of the license shall be contrary to the public health, safety, peace, welfare, or morals."
However, Jeffrey Bell, the attorney representing the owner of King Spa, asked Wednesday: “what exactly happened during the investigation?”
Since there has yet to be any criminal prosecution taken by the District Attorney's (DA) office, Bell said he and his clients hoped “there is something we can establish and do to resolve the problems prior to the revocation of the license."
Although Payne did not go into detail about the investigation, he confirmed that these two locations were "engaging in illegal acts of prostitution.”
Councilmember Philip Putnam noted: "What happened might have been entirely innocent, or it might have been taken out of context, or it might have been something serious, but we know there have been a number of people ... who have raised concerns ... about this issue."
Putnam also made clear: "The decision [to revoke a license] will be made on the evidence. ... It's not going to be made on suspicion or belief. It will be made on fact of that particular complaint."
While SPPD has submitted the complaint regarding King Spa to the DA, the department has yet to do so for Massage Villa, whose manager and two employees were just charged Friday. Police Chief Joe Payne estimates it will be a "considerable amount of time" before the cases are heard before a judge.
The last time a business in South Pasadena was closed down as a result of similar charges was in 2001, says Payne. Currently, there are 15 massage businesses in town, reports Pasadena Star-News.
These two revocation hearings are slated to take place at the City Council meeting March 7 and will give both law enforcement and the business owners a fair chance to present each of their cases, said City Attorney Richard Adams.
City Council also directed City Staff Wednesday to look into adding more restrictions to massage businesses—in addition to those pushed through June 2010—such as background checks and restricting hours of operation.