Thursday, August 01, 2013

Bathhouse Permits Denied by SFPD; Injunction Ignored

The permits division meeting yesterday of the San Francisco Police Department attracted nearly twenty-five people, comprised of department employees, massage parlor owners applying for bathhouse permits and members of the public.

Sgt. William Coggan, pictured on the lower left in the gray suit, was the hearing officer.

Despite the fact that the Department of Public Health has forced massage parlors, which they license, to apply for bathhouse permits administered by the cops, and that DPH makes recommendations about approving or denying bathhouse permits, no representatives from the department were in attendance.

The first bathhouse permit-seeker was Danny Nguyen, pictured in white hat, owner of a massage parlor on Geary Street in Supervisor Jane Kim's district. Speaking against his application for nuisance and human trafficking concerns was Kim's legislative aide Ive Lee, pictured right.

Seated at the table on the left is the woman who seemed to be the manager of Danny Nguyen's operation and I didn't catch her name. She answered Coggan's questions about the massage parlor through her attorney Christopher Hall, pictured right. Standing behind them are anti human trafficking advocates.

Coggan, after confirming there were four bathtubs at the massage parlor which would help define the business as a bathhouse, denied Danny Nguyen's application because of police code violations and a long history of sex for money on the premises.

On the right is Kathy Nguyen who owns a massage parlor on Taylor Street. The man next to her was not identified and didn't speak, and the cop on the left is Officer Troy Dangerfield, who heads the permits division.

Coggan denied her bathhouse application because the City planning department and other agencies found her operation was not up to building and zoning codes.

The third applicant was Thai Dang, pictured right, whose massage parlor is located on Geary Street. His command of English was extremely limited and Coggan offered translation services, but Dang declined the offer. Because of a recent change in owners and electrical and building codes, this application was continued.

In the middle is Phuong Le, the fourth applicant and owner of a massage parlor on Lombard Street, and she didn't introduce the woman to the left. Le's bathhouse application was denied by Coggan because the City planning agency opposed it, the location is not zoned for a bathhouse and the massage parlor license has expired.

All denials can be appealed by the owners and Coggan explained how they can start that process.

Regarding the 800-pound gorilla in the room, the 1984 court injunction banning bathhouses, I used public comment time to broach the subject. At the July 17 permit hearing where bathhouse applications were considered, Coggan and police department officials lacked a copy of the injunction and were unsure if and how it applied in 2013.

I asked if the police had obtained the injunction. They had and a paper copy was on the table, but investigating officer Robert Forneris said he hadn't read it and was waiting for police colleagues to offer an opinion about its validity now and if it should be a factor in the massage parlor owners applying for bathhouse permits.

We need to have the police and health department come clean, so to speak, about why there is this push to have the massage parlors request such permits and why neither department seems to care that the injunction is still in effect.

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