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Santa Maria massage parlor tapped for 'red light' abatement over alleged prostitution

Santa Maria massage parlor tapped for 'red light' abatement over alleged prostitution

From the What you need to know for Monday, August 31 series
  • Updated
Yu Day Spa

Yu Day Spa, located at 1121 S. Broadway, was referred to the Santa Maria City Attorney's Office for "red light" abatement over alleged prostitution after a Thursday code enforcement inspection following a complaint, according to Sgt. Eligio Lara. 

A Santa Maria massage parlor was referred to the City Attorney’s Office for abatement after officers allegedly uncovered evidence of prostitution following an inspection Thursday.

Santa Maria Police and code enforcement officers conducted an inspection of Yu Day Spa at about 8 p.m. in the 1100 block of South Broadway following a complaint, according to Sgt. Eligio Lara.

Several females were encountered at the business, but they did not cooperate in the investigation. 

Additionally, officers contacted two customers at the business, Lara said. No arrests were made.

Enough evidence of prostitution was found and forwarded to the city attorney’s office for “red light” abatement, according to Lara.

Yu Day Spa could not be reached for comment.

Red light abatement allows cities to shut down or fine businesses if they are suspected of illegal vice activities such as prostitution or gambling, according to Lara. 

The process stems from the Red Light Abatement Act, which was signed into law in 1913, and legally authorizes cities to shut down businesses to eliminate or curb prostitution. 

Red-light districts, which have a concentration of sex-oriented businesses, were common in several U.S. cities until the early 20th century, when they started to disappear as a result of sex-related public nuisance laws passed by states, according to Atlas Obscura. 

The law is sometimes used to go after business tenants that don't pay rent and to hold landlords accountable, forcing them to address illegal activities on their properties, according to sanjoseinside.com.

In 2018, San Jose used the law to shut down the Bebe Day Spa. In 2017, San Francisco used it to close the Queen’s Health Center, an alleged brothel that was located on Kearny in the city’s Financial District, and the Paradise Health Center, formerly located on Balboa Street in the Richmond District.

This type of abatement is a civil action, rather than criminal, allowing cities to enforce prostitution laws, according to Lara.

“It’s just another route to see what we can do to limit prostitution,” Lara said, adding that massage parlor inspections are also intended to find evidence of human trafficking, although none was found at Yu Day Spa.

Using red light abatement, the city has shut down at least five massage parlors in the last two years, Lara said.

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The following is taken from the Lompoc Police Department's calls-for-service log and the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office daily arrest log. Those appearing as "arrested" are only suspected of the crime indicated but are presumed innocent.

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