|Happy ending eludes Cotati massage biz
Cotati council votes to revoke zoning clearance
The Cotati City Council, at its Aug. 22 meeting, effectively put Golden Hydro Massage Therapy out of operation when it denied the business’ appeal of the city’s planning commission to revoke its zoning clearance.
Misti Harris, associate planner, presented the planning commission’s case to the council, which didn’t need much time or discussion to come to a decision. A city staff report found Golden Hydro to be in numerous serious violations of city and state codes. Moreover, the planning commission staff said it had given Golden Hydro’s owner, Kerwin Dudley, plenty of time to bring his business into compliance with the codes, which they say he did not. Harris said the commission deemed the business to be a “public nuisance.” The commission made its recommendation at a meeting on June 4.
Dudley’s attorney, Pat Dyas, said the only two options remaining are to do exactly as the city has determined or to sue the city in civil court. He said a decision has not been made.
Most of the violations were against city ordinance 827, including performing massages behind locked doors. The ordinance was adopted on July 14, 2010 to regulate massage businesses within the city. The planning commission would not flat out say it, but it dropped some not-so-subtle hints the establishment was being used as a front for prostitution. The commission, in conjunction with the Cotati Police Department, conducted several site visits and inspections before deciding to revoke Golden Hydro’s zoning clearance.
Some of the details in the report cited patrons of Golden Hydro who described in detail sexual acts performed by therapists in addition to massage therapy in exchange for payment. Also, the report said therapists were dressed entirely inappropriately for reputed massages. Some of the customers also described the bodies, including private areas, of the therapists.
The report also stated how there were online ads or advertisements featuring very attractive women who didn’t even work at Golden Hydro.
Other violations cited by the planning commission included how there was evidence the facility was being used as a residence, state certificates for proper massage training were not posted, and there also were California Fish and Game violations.
Pat Dyas, Dudley’s lawyer, told the council his client disagreed with staff report and asked for more time and the opportunity to work with the city to bring the business into compliance with guidance from the planning commission.
That request was unanimously shot down after Harris told the council there had been little good-faith effort on the part of Dudley.
“From my perspective, these violations are pretty egregious, and I’m not inclined to allow additional time,” Councilwoman Pat Gilardi said.
City staff has identified 20 possible massage establishments within Cotati. Of the 20, eight have been found to be exempt or not offering massage services, six have complied with Ordinance 827, two are pending verification of compliance, and four have been found substantially out of compliance, including Golden Hydro.
“One of the violations listed stemmed from evidence of moisture problem because of a lack of a proper ventilation system. And that is where Dyas finds a major flaw.
“The impetus for premature closing was air quality in the building,” Dyas said. “The issue of H-VAC system has never been in control of tenant. If there is mold contamination it has it all the way through the building. He (Dudley) had no control over that. We had an expert who opined there were no excess levels of any contamination.”
“I have not seen any new evidence brought before us that changes anything in this documentation,” Mayor Susan Harvey said. “I think there was a healthy discussion at the planning commission. This ordinance was put into effect in 2010, all were notified and some have complied and some have not. I think here we sit in 2012, and there’s been more than adequate time to know what ordinances and expectations are. There’s been plenty of opportunity to make corrections. I do not see any reason to give any more time. Some of these things could have been remedied quickly.”
Golden Hydro is the only massage-type business owned by Dudley, who is in commercial advertising and lives in the greater Bay Area. Dyas said Dudley is hoping to sell the rights to the space to another party that may be willing to apply to the city to run a similar business.
“Mr. Dudley is out of the massage business permanently,” Dyas said.