After months of banging the drum for legislative help when it comes to cracking down on illegal massage parlors, Capt. Mark Wachter, commanding officer of the 104th Precinct, may finally get his wish.
A package of five bills aimed at hampering the ability of such entities to operate illegally was introduced jointly by Assemblyman Mike Miller (D-Woodhaven) and state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr. (D-Howard Beach) this week, with Wachter saying it will no longer be easier to close a bagel store than it will be a massage parlor in New York City should the legislation pass.
After months of receiving complaints from southwest Queens residents of parlors opening on Myrtle and Metropolitan avenues either without licenses or with a specialty in illicit sexual services, Wachter took action late last year.
A handful of establishments closed after he assigned an officer to sit outside their front door in a police cruiser for days at a time, but Wachter said it wasn’t unusual to see them reopen in another location a short time later.
Other areas especially plagued by illegal massage parlors include Corona, Flushing and Bayside.
But according to Addabbo, the legislation he introduced requiring landlords to verify the license of a prospective massage therapist tenant before entering into a lease agreement — with a violation resulting in a $1,000 fine for the former — could curb the practice.
Other pieces of legislation introduced would require all massage parlors to not obstruct the view into the building’s lobby from the sidewalk; require the licensee of such a venue to be on the premises at all times during business hours and require that landlords evict any parlor proven to have promoted prostitution or operated without a license.
The final bill provides the city Department of Consumer Affairs the full authority to both enforce the provisions and impose fines on problematic locations.