NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. — At its meeting of 2019, the New Port Richey City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would ban bathhouses in the city.
- Measure prompted in part by searches of massage parlors leading to prostitution arrests
- Police enforcement curbed prostitution along U.S. 19 in New Port Richey
- Ordinance meant to help combat less obvious forms of activity
- More Pasco County stories
“It’s prompted, in part, by the fact that up until recently, there were two massage parlors located in the city, both of which were performing bathhouse, or table shower, services,” said City Manager Debbie Manns.
Those businesses were Miyako Spa and Kimura Spa, both located on U.S. 19. New Port Richey Police executed search warrants at both on October 12, 2018.
As a result, Aizi Li, 55, and Shunyu Jin, 55, were charged with three counts each of solicitation of prostitution. Ai Shu Jin, 58, was charged with two counts of operating or maintaining a place for prostitution at both locations.
Each location also had zoning violations for allowing people to live inside the business.
“Without question, the presence of these types of establishments escalates the problem for us,” said Manns.
Combating less obvious forms of prostitution
Police Chief Kim Bogart said enforcement efforts through the years have helped curb prostitution along U.S. 19 in the city.
“It’s to the point now where it’s not out in the open,” said Bogart. “I don’t think you’ll ever stop prostitution – that’d be ridiculous to think that you can – but it’s not in your face.”
Bogart said the new ordinance could be an added resource for officers in combating the less obvious forms of such activity.
“I think if we get rid of the opportunity in a business center for that type of activity to be going on, it stops it there,” Bogart said.
How it would work
The ordinance would ban any establishment that’s not a medical facility from bathing clients. Anyone who violates the law would be fined up to $500 for each violation and possibly imprisoned for up to 60 days.
Manns said a companion ordinance regarding massage parlors themselves is also being considered by the city’s land development review board. The text of that proposed ordinance is expected to be forwarded to the city council.
“Although they are permitted use in several of our zoning classifications, we don’t currently have the definitions and standards that we’d like to have associated with the ordinance,” Manns said.
A second reading of the bathhouse ordinance is expected to take place at the council’s January 15 meeting, at which time it could be adopted.