VI. Consumer Protection

Chapter 9.64


9.64.010    Purpose and findings.

9.64.020    Definitions.

9.64.030    Prohibited acts.

9.64.040    Exemption – Religious practice.

9.64.050    Permit application.

9.64.060    Investigation.

9.64.070    Decision.

9.64.080    Issuance of permit.

9.64.090    Term of permit and posting.

9.64.100    Bond requirement.

9.64.110    Right to record session.

9.64.120    Revocation.

9.64.130    Appeal to City Council.

9.64.140    Penalty.

Prior legislation: Ord. 465.

9.64.010 Purpose and findings.

A. The practice of fortunetelling, as defined in this chapter, has historically been subject to abuse by unscrupulous practitioners using the practice to commit fraud and larceny upon clients.

B. The purpose of this chapter is to regulate the practice of fortunetelling in such a manner as to reduce the risk of fraud and larceny to clients while allowing fortunetellers to provide their services to clients with only minimal restrictions.

C. The provisions of this chapter requiring a permit, posting a bond, and allowing client recordation of the consultation, will make it more difficult for an unscrupulous fortuneteller to commit fraud or larceny, and yet, as informational regulations, will not affect the nature of the information conveyed by the fortuneteller nor the manner in which it is conveyed. These regulations require only minimal expense and effort on the part of the fortuneteller and will not, therefore, impose any undue burden on their practices.

D. For these and other reasons, the provisions of this chapter are necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].

9.64.020 Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

“Fortunetelling” means the telling of fortunes or forecasting of futures in exchange for a fee, reward, donation, loan, or receipt of anything of value. Fortunetelling shall include uses where fortunes are told by means of astrology, phrenology, cartomancy, tea reading, clairvoyance, clairaudience, crystal gazing, hypnotism, mesmerism, mediumship, palmistry, spirits, etherealization, numerology, physiognomy, psychometry, seership prophecy, augury, divination, magic, necromancy, talisman, charm, potion, magnetism, magnetized article or substance of any kind or nature. Fortunetelling does not include forecasting based on historical trends or patterns, an analysis of contemporary events, nor any of the previously listed arts when presented in an assembly of people who purchase tickets or meals in exchange for the presentation at a site licensed for entertainment land uses.

“Person” includes an individual, partnership, corporation, association of persons or entity.

“Police Department” means the law enforcement agency of the City. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].

9.64.030 Prohibited acts.

No person shall conduct, engage in, carry on, participate in or practice the business of or art of fortunetelling or cause the same to be done without having first obtained a permit from the Community Development Director and without having posted and maintained in full force and effect a surety bond as required in LEMC 9.64.100. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].

9.64.040 Exemption – Religious practice.

No person shall be required to pay any fee or obtain a permit for exercising any religious function or practice when such person holds a certificate of commission, accreditation or ordination as a minister, missionary, clergyman, or accredited representative (hereinafter collectively referred to as minister) from any bona fide church or religious association having a creed or set of religious principles that are recognized by all churches or religious associations of like faith. Any church or religious association which is organized for the primary purpose of conferring certificates of commission, accreditation, or ordination for a price and not primarily for the purpose of teaching and practicing of religious doctrine or belief shall not be deemed to be a bona fide church association. This exemption applies; provided, that:

A. The fees, emoluments and profits thereof shall be regularly accounted for and paid solely to or for the benefit of the bona fide church or religious association, as defined above; however; such bona fide church or religious association may pay its ministers a salary or compensation based upon a percentage basis, pursuant to a written agreement between the church and the minister.

B. The minister shall file with the Community Development Director a declaration of the minister’s name, address, and telephone number in this City where the religious function or practice is to be conducted. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].

9.64.050 Permit application.

Every person prior to conducting, engaging in, carrying on or practicing fortunetelling shall file a verified application for a permit with the Community Development Director. A nonrefundable processing fee in the sum of $250.00 shall accompany the application. The application shall be in a form prescribed by the Community Development Director and shall contain, at a minimum, the following:

A. The legal name of the applicant accompanied by appropriate proof of such legal name;

B. Any other name or names to be used as part of the business practice;

C. The applicant’s home address and phone number and, if known, business address and phone number;

D. The record of conviction of violations of law, excluding minor traffic violations, of the applicant;

E. The fingerprints of the applicant on a form provided by the Police Department;

F. Two one and one-half by one and one-half-inch photographs of the applicant;

G. The address, City and State, and approximate dates where and when the applicant practiced a similar business, either alone or in conjunction with others. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].

9.64.060 Investigation.

A. Within three working days of the filing of a complete application, the application shall be referred by the Community Development Director to the Police Department for investigation and report. The investigation shall be conducted to verify the facts contained in the application and any supporting data. The Police Department shall determine whether the applicant has ever been convicted of a crime other than a minor traffic violation. A written report of the Police Department’s findings shall be filed with the Community Development Director within 14 calendar days after the application is referred to the Police Department. A copy thereof shall be served by mail or personally on the applicant.

B. For purposes of this section or any other provisions of this chapter, a conviction means a plea or verdict of guilty or a conviction following a plea of nolo contendere. The record of a conviction, or a copy thereof certified by the clerk of the court or by a judge of the court in which the conviction occurred, shall be conclusive evidence of the conviction. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].

9.64.070 Decision.

The Community Development Director shall consider the application and Police Department report not less than seven nor more than 14 calendar days following receipt of the Police Department report described in LEMC 9.64.060. The decision of the Community Development Director to approve or deny the permit shall be in writing, and if adverse to the applicant, shall contain the findings of fact and a determination of the issues presented. The Community Development Director shall immediately notify the applicant of his action by personal service or certified mail. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].

9.64.080 Issuance of permit.

A. The Community Development Director shall approve the issuance of the permit upon making all of the following findings:

1. All information contained in the application and supporting data is true and correct;

2. The applicant has not within the previous two years been convicted of any violation of this chapter, or any law relating to fraud, theft, or moral turpitude; and

3. The applicant agreed to abide by and comply with all conditions of the permit and this chapter.

B. If the permit is denied, a notice of denial, stating the reasons therefor, shall be served upon the applicant either by personal service or registered or certified mail, return receipt requested.

C. If the Community Director approves the permit, he shall thereafter issue the permit when:

1. The fee required by Chapter 5.16 LEMC has been paid;

2. The applicant has posted with the City Clerk a surety bond as set forth in LEMC 9.64.100. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].

9.64.090 Term of permit and posting.

The term of the permit shall be one year. A renewal application shall be filed between 90 and 30 calendar days prior to the expiration of the permit and shall be processed in the same manner as a new application. The permit shall be posted inside the place of business and in clear view of any patron. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].

9.64.100 Bond requirement.

A. Prior to the issuance of a permit, the applicant shall file and thereafter maintain with the City a good and sufficient surety bond in the aggregate sum of $10,000. Said bond shall be executed, as surety, by a corporate surety in good standing and authorized to do business in the State of California and, as principal, by the applicant and shall run in favor of, in the name of, or payable to any and all persons who may be injured or aggrieved by the wrongful act or acts of the applicant in his capacity as a fortuneteller. Any person so injured or aggrieved may bring suit on the bond in his own name. Said bond shall be in a form approved by the City Attorney. The bond shall, by its terms, insure good faith and fair dealing on the part of the applicant and as a guarantee of indemnity for any and all loss, damage, theft or other unfair dealings suffered by any patron of the applicant within the City during the term of the permit.

B. The bond shall be continuous in form, remain in full force and effect, and run concurrently with the permit period of any and all renewals. The surety may cancel the bond and be relieved of further liability thereunder by delivering 30 days’ written notice to the City. Such cancellation shall not affect any liability incurred or accrued thereunder prior to the termination of the 30-day period. If a bond is canceled, the permit shall be deemed suspended until such time as a new bond is provided. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].

9.64.110 Right to record session.

As a term of the permit issued, permittee, its employees, agents and representatives shall grant and allow any patron the right and privilege to record, by any reasonable means, the audio and/or visual portion of a private or semi-private fortunetelling session or meeting. Any interference with or refusal to allow the patrons right to record said meeting shall be ground for revocation of the permit as set forth in LEMC 9.64.120. A sign shall be posted, with lettering no less than one-half inch in height, notifying patrons of the right to record sessions. The sign shall be posted inside the place of business and in clear view of any patron. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].

9.64.120 Revocation.

A. Any permit issued under the terms of this chapter may be revoked at any time by the Community Development Director, after a hearing, due notice of which shall be furnished the permittee, if he finds that the permittee breached any term or condition in this chapter or in the issued permit. Said hearing shall be held within 20 calendar days after said notice is mail or served. After hearing all evidence and testimony, the Community Development Director shall have the power to either revoke the permit or impose reasonable conditions on the continued use under the permit which are necessary for the protection of the public’s health, safety and welfare. The added conditions may include, among other things, increasing the bond requirement to a sum greater than $10,000.

B. Notice of the revocation of permit or added conditions, stating the reasons therefor, shall be served upon the permittee either by personal service or registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, within 72 hours after completion of the hearing. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].

9.64.130 Appeal to City Council.

A written appeal may be made to the City Council from any decision or determination of the Community Development Director made pursuant to LEMC 9.64.080 and 9.64.120. The written appeal shall be filed with the City Clerk within 15 calendar days after notice of such decision is given pursuant to LEMC 9.64.120.

A. Upon receipt of a written appeal from the applicant or permittee, the City Clerk shall schedule a hearing thereon before the City Council within 30 days after said appeal is filed and shall give notice of the time and place of hearing to the applicant or permittee not less than 10 calendar days before such hearing either by personal service or registered or certified mail, return receipt requested.

B. At the time of the hearing, the City Council shall hear and consider all relevant evidence. At such hearing the applicant or permittee shall be given an opportunity to appear either personally or by representative and to be heard and to call witnesses on his or her behalf. The hearing may be continued from time to time as determined necessary by the City Council or upon request of the applicant or permittee upon good cause being shown, in the discretion of the City Council, but in no event more than one month after the appeal is first considered by the City Council. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].

9.64.140 Penalty.

Every person who violates any of the terms or conditions of a permit issued pursuant to this chapter or any of the regulations or provisions within this chapter shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. Each and every day such violation or violations occur or continue shall be a separate offense. [Ord. 1064 § 2, 2000].