In an effort to stem human trafficking, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn said Tuesday she would like the public health department to expand its inspection program to massage parlors.
The issue came before the board after Hahn learned that such inspections were not routine, but only conducted by request from the county’s tax collector’s office. The inspections are conducted so that businesses in unincorporated areas can receive a license.
While the county’s Department of Public Health does offer inspections to its more than 80 municipalities, only two cities — Bell and City of Commerce — have agreed to contracts.
“I’m very concerned about some massage parlors,” Hahn said, after she learned such inspections were not routine. “I absolutely believe, especially the ones that charge very little, that there’s something going on. I’m really concerned about (those businesses) being a cover for human trafficking.”
Hahn said such inspections may help deter such illegal operations.
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Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Los Angeles County public health director, said she would send letters out to city managers beginning Wednesday to remind them that the inspections are available. She also said inspectors are currently undergoing training on how to spot victims of human trafficking in hotels and other businesses.
Hahn also requested an ordinance be developed to consider routine inspections.
The public health department already inspects restaurants, nursing homes and food trucks.
“I think the more we can do, the better,” Hahn said. “I do know some of my cities would welcome this agreement.”