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Palo Alto looks to strengthen massage law

Original post made on Feb 15, 2012

Palo Alto is plowing ahead with its plan to firm up regulation of local massage practices, but several City Council members said Tuesday night that the ordinance proposed by staff itself needs a little massaging.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, February 14, 2012, 10:00 PM

Comments (32)

Posted by Bill, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2012 at 10:00 am

> "As a society, we are where we are for good reasons," Klein said.
> "It's not a perfect solution, but I think the licensing makes sense."

What in the world does this mean? Isn't Larry Klein capable go stringing some words together that address the topic on the table, and actually makes some sense?



Posted by Tom, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 15, 2012 at 10:32 am

I love Happy Feet. At the same time, if they want to offer massages, the therapists who do that should be certified if that's the law. If they don't want to do that, fine - just don't offer that service, and stick to reflexology.

My 2 cents.


Posted by FrankBooth, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2012 at 11:23 am

It sounds sounds as if Larry Klein needs edification. I do not think he can differentiate "Happy Feet" from "happy ending".


Posted by Gayle Riggs, a resident of Nixon School
on Feb 15, 2012 at 12:21 pm

When you go to Happy Feet, the first thing you do is take off your shoes and soak your feet. The shoes are the only garment you remove.. I would guess that at least 20 people work there at a time. They are trained to relax you and work on your feet doing exactly the same thing with the same timing for anyone who is a patron. Nothing is personal and it is not like having a personal massage. I don't see any reason to put all of these people out of work. They do not claim to be massage therapists. I would rather support them doing their jobs than by paying for their unemployment insurance.


Posted by Simple Economics, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 15, 2012 at 2:06 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Posted by Concerned Citizen, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 15, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Aren't the people who work at Happy Feet certified at reflexology? If not then why not? Why should I go to a reflexology place when all the are doing is massage? They are either licensed in massage or certified in reflexology. That should be the law.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 15, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I stopped going to HF after a few uncomfortable experiences. The people working there were not well trained and did not have the professional demeanor of those who have been certified. It seemed as if they walked in off the street and were handed a job. They could be anyone. I understand that people like to get a great massage for a low price, and that requiring HF workers to be certified would naturally raise the price, but you get what you pay for. They could still compete with the spas that have more overhead - it just would not be dirt cheap as it is now. If you want a quality experience, you need to pay for it. This is an age old truth. And it protects the workers as well as the patrons.


Posted by HAPPY with HAPPY FEET in PALO ALTO, a resident of Barron Park
on Feb 15, 2012 at 6:09 pm

My 3 words about Happy Feet: I LOVE THEM! I am a mother of 3 little ones, and I have very little spare time for any "me-time" or pampering of any sort. Happy Feet offers me invaluable relaxation, that is conveniently located in town, and bonus: also affordable!!! The service at Happy Feet has always been PROFESSIONAL and APPROPRIATE. There is nothing of "questionable nature" at Happy Feet. Just reflexology services! Every single Happy Feet experience leaves me feeling MORE relaxed than the times when I've received services from a licensed massage therapist (which tend to be 3-4 times more expensive than Happy Feet, by the way). REFLEXOLOGY is a service I hope can continue receiving from Happy Feet in PALO ALTO. I NEED THEM!!!


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 15, 2012 at 8:47 pm

I'm glad you're happy with the massages. However, if you do the math, the people giving them are getting paid very little. What Happy Feet should do is invest in some training for them, raise their prices to a level where they can pay them a solid hourly wage, with reasonable benefits, and continue in Palo Alto. By taking advantage of the low price, you are helping to exploit them. There are good reasons for the rules, and they are for your protection, as well as theirs. Again, nothing that marvelous is that cheap.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2012 at 7:56 am

> By taking advantage of the low price, you are helping to exploit them

What gobbledygook! These people willingly took these jobs. It's hard not to believe that most, if not all, are recent immigrants who are low-skilled. (How they managed to get into the country is another question.)

If they wanted more money, then they should train themselves (by enrolling in some sort of school, or training program) and then qualify for a job where a higher salary is justified.

The idea of paying someone $25+/hr to "rub feet" is ludicrous. Better to build machines to do this, and make this problem of "inappropriate touching" go away.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2012 at 9:12 am

Bill, Yes, lots of people willingly take badly paid, exploitative jobs. This is why I don't own an i-phone, or shop at WalMart, or Safeway. I pay more elsewhere, but I'm not participating in a business that is well known for cheap prices at the cost of human life and suffering. Palo Alto is asking that a massage establishment within its borders uphold the law, which includes insisting that the workers be trained and legally certified. Not only would this improve one's chances of not getting a massage from a sexual predator, but this would also enable the employees to willingly get better pay for this valuable work. People who enjoy the service, but are not willing to pay a decent wage for it are enabling their exploitation. You may label this how ever you choose in this free country.


Posted by Maggie, a resident of Mountain View
on Feb 16, 2012 at 10:08 am

<If they wanted more money, then they should train themselves (by enrolling in some sort of school, or training program) and then qualify for a job where a higher salary is justified.

This would be quite diffcult to do on such a low income. Working full time at their payrate barely gives them enough to survive let alone pay for higher education. I know because I am a trained massage therapist who earns twice as much as they do and still makes "just enough".



<The idea of paying someone $25+/hr to "rub feet" is ludicrous. Better to build machines to do this, and make this problem of "inappropriate touching" go away.

Places like Happy Feet offer Reflexology which is an advanced and ancient healing technique. If a company truly believes in reflexology enough to offer it as a service then they should honor it enough to demand that your reflexologist has proper training in the technique, benefits, contraindications etc.
"The American Reflexology Certification Board (ARCB) certification examination is offered to therapists who have successfully completed 110 hours of reflexology course training through an accredited educational program and completed 90 reflexology therapy sessions. Practitioners who pass the standard reflexology examination can apply to sit for the hand reflexology examination after completing an additional 30 hours of coursework and 20 hand reflexology sessions."
The typical charge for a true reflexology session is between 40 and 80 dollars an hour.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2012 at 10:52 am

> This would be quite diffcult to do on such a low income

People do it all the time. The California Taxpayers subsidize the Community College system to the tune of billions of dollars a year so that people like these "massage therapists" (or whatever you want to label them) can obtain training, or education, at virtually no cost to themselves.

And keep in mind that Northern California is not exactly known for its low-cost-of-living. People who come here without the skills to command $50+/hour salaries are also free to move to somewhere else where they can live, work, and attend one of these highly subsidized Community Colleges.

America became a great county when immigrants came here willing to work in factories, farm, and join its military. Not demanding the same from the current crop of immigrants (such as legislating crazy ideas like a "minimum wage") does not bode well for these immigrants, or the future of the country.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Bill, "Are there no prisons, no workhouses?" Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol


Posted by Bill, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm

> Are there no prisons, no workhouses?

Not here in Palo Alto.


Posted by Prefer having options, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 16, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Licensure does NOT automatically make one a better service provider. I completely agree with "Happy with Happy Feet" -- I have always come away from Happy Feet feeling MORE relaxed and rejuvenated than I do from any of the massages I've received from licensed-massage-therapists at various local spas. I like having the CHOICE and OPTION to make my own decisions about where and from whom to receive services.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2012 at 3:09 pm

Of course you do. I'm merely pointing out that you're making a choice that works great for just you, and the owners of HF.


Posted by Prefer having options, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Feb 16, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Observer:

Do YOU PERSONALLY know that the employees (such as those at HF) are dissatisfied with their wages? They are tipped quite generously since the rates at HF are low. Do YOU PERSONALLY know they aren't actually HAPPY receiving SOME income -- rather than being on the STREET during these hard-financial times? Your statement is inaccurate - it's not a choice that ONLY benefits a few. Do you see people on the streets, waiting for work, holding up signs for food?


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Prefer, I understand why you're defensive. Nobody likes being called out for taking advantage of others who are in less fortunate circumstances. Peace to you.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm

> Nobody likes being called out for taking advantage of others
> who are in less fortunate circumstances

The only people who can say that they are being taken advantage of by a business are the employees of that business. So far, no one from Happy Feet has joined this conversation, and condemned the owner.

By the way, given that just about every one in the service sector would love to see higher wages—so by this posters logic, all of these people are "being taken advantage of". The means that if you buy any food in a grocery store, or use a rest room in a commercial building, or eat in a restaurant—you are no doubt taking advantage of the staff of that organization. And of course, this list would probably include those who pick coffee beans, or coca beans, or work in any fields producing food that is shipped to the US. It's pretty hard to find some product, or service, where those employed in the manufacture/delivery of those services are not be exploited by their management—according to someone on the outside looking in.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 16, 2012 at 8:46 pm

It's not a river in Egypt, Bill.


Posted by Kt, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2012 at 11:17 am

I go to happy feet regularly and feel as though they do a good job on my type of body. I know others who have gone and been in horrible pain for two or more days following a massage ( yes, when you book you ask for a massage). Although I love this place, I don't see any reason why their staff cannot be certified in massage therapy. It won't shut them down because the staff will pass with flying colors, they are that good! I reallydon't see why there is even any resistance here....give them1 year to have all of their staff get certified and carry on. I'm sure the certification price won't be that high, right???


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 19, 2012 at 5:55 pm

Thank you, Kt, for a realistic and reasonable comment.


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on Feb 19, 2012 at 8:15 pm

So is the deal w/Happy Feet that they perform massage services & aren't certified? I don't mean the refloxology for the feet. When I get pedicures, the technicians often do light massages on the feet & calves, which I understand is legal because they're not advertising massage; it's part of the overall pedicare service.


Posted by Observer, a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 19, 2012 at 11:19 pm

The recent fashion of women (and a few men) getting pedicures, you see them in the store window sitting there reading while a human being massages and manicures their feet. Makes me gag.
Aside from medical needs, the ego, the narcissism, and willingness to demean another woman is revolting.
Yeah, I know it's a living for the worker. That's obvious. I'm not talking about her. Just my 2 cents.


Posted by Kt, a resident of Midtown
on Feb 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm

When I go to the nail salon or even the massage parlor I sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable, I have to admit. It just seems so wrong, but then i realize it is a service that is being provided, someones profession. See, I couldn't polish my nails and cut my cuticles to perfection if I tried, even tried really hard. And i don't have beauty night with my girlfriends like i did when i was 12. These businesses provide services and the employees (males and female employees) are paid for their time, maybe not enough, I'm not sure. But I treat these people with respect, I tip generously, I thank them for their services, and I really enjoy talking to some of them about family, events etc. so while it seems a bit demeaning and narcissistic, I think it all depends on how you view it... The hair stylist who stands on his or her feet for 10 hours a day styling people's hair is doing a similar service.....just making someone's hair pretty and not their toes.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 21, 2012 at 8:46 pm

I agree it can be uncomfortable when you're receiving a service like that from someone. It can be humbling to be served, but the service can be very beneficial, therapeutic, something you can't do yourself. And these jobs provide a much needed opportunity for all kinds of people. So the solution is not to abolish jobs like this, but to make sure those providing the service are treated well, paid the fair market price for their work, and, as implied in the certification requirements, encouraged to get additional training. When a business provides a path upward for its employees, everyone benefits, except those who prefer the choice of paying very little for a lot. Sorry, not enough people can be relied upon to make up the shortage by tipping as most tips are calculated based on a percentage of the price, if, indeed any tip is given at all.


Posted by AMRW, a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2012 at 7:57 am

From Observer: "Aside from medical needs, the ego, the narcissism, and willingness to demean another woman is revolting."

I've received pedicures and massages from men. Is this "demeaning" as well? Is it less demeaning to be sloughing the callouses off of someones feet if you're paid well? I don't think you should assume that because the pay is low that it's demeaning work. Or is it demeaning because they have to touch someones gross feet? Doctors do gross stuff all the time but it's not demeaning?


Posted by Public health first, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 22, 2012 at 11:05 am

"Whatever you do, do it well. It's the quality of your work that defines you." There is nothing demeaning about any useful job that is well done. Love thy neighbor...and give him his due respect. I don't like the direction this discussion is going.

I would like Council to require appropriate certifications. Properly educated workers also learn about hygeine and physical safety. This is a public health issue. Yes. You can be physically harmed by poorly done massage. Certification requires businesses to have staff that is capable of providing safe service for our good money. The businesses can provide that education or they can pay their employees enough to afford it. If they do neither, they can go out of business. Their choice.


Posted by AMRW, a resident of another community
on Feb 22, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Public Health First-I absolutely agree. There is nothing demeaning about a useful job that is well done. I also think that certifications with yearly or every other year renewals should be required for anyone working with the general public and providing massage therapy. That is why I won't go to Happy Feet. I realize the price is good, but I value my feet and wha they do for me far too much to let someone without a certification/license massage them.


Posted by Observer, a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 23, 2012 at 9:04 pm

To Public Health first and AMRW, Great points! Thank you for adding your perspectives to the discussion.


Posted by Ken, a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 16, 2013 at 3:18 pm

It seems that there is a knee jerk and possibly racist story that some people make about Asian massage. A lot of assumptions. I've been to massage conventions, done a lot of training myself,and had lots of massages. Certification is no guarantee of a good massage.
Some of the therapists at foot spa like Wendy, know something about the energetic aspects and dare I say spiritual aspect of healing, not just technique.
I have come in dead dog tired and depressed and in a hour feel like a new man. I could not afford to go to a licensed massage therapist and risk getting a mediocre massage as can happen anywhere. At least here I have a choice. I know the good therapists and I avoid ones that are not as good. I tip very well for good service, and feel that I'm helping provide income for someone who is doing honest work.
To make these women jump through hoops that are really unnecessary
and would be a burden is inhumane.


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