ADA In The News
The Ever Changing ADA Regulations
by Bassam Altwal
For commercial property and facility managers and owners it can be confusing to understand ADA Guidelines, especially when it seems that the goal line is constantly moving.
The ADA (American disability Act) codes started with the ANZI 117.1 of 1961, it was the standard to implement the access requirements. In California, in 1971, Health and Safety Code 19959 was passed that required all alternations, repairs and additions be accessible. In 1982, The California Building Code T24 went into effect replacing the 1961 ANSI standards. Since then, codes have seen multiple changes with recently the new 2010 ADA code and 2010 T24 CBC.
As Recent as August 1st 2012, The California Division of State Architect implemented a new “Finding of Emergency regarding the California Building Code” due to conflict between state and federal accessibility regulations that cannot be resolved by using the more stringent of the two requirements.
Enforcing the current California Building code will force a violation of the 2010 ADA code; by violating the technical items of the ADA act creates a violation of the California Civil Code section 54(c), which in plain English means a lawsuit.
The above language leads to a situation “damn if you do and damn if you don’t” like running in circles, obtaining a permit from the building department might not be enough to avoid the lawsuits even over a fraction of an inch violation.
California recognized the need to make some immediate modifications to its code, to match the Federal code, those modifications are in effect immediately until the new California code 2013 CBC that will be published on January 2014. The main changes that actually consist of a relief for local contractors and building officials are:
Toilet location from side wall; CBC 1115B.4.1 : The distance of a toilet seat used to be 18” away from center line of WC exactly to the adjacent wall, this used to be the biggest hurdle to comply, this item has presented itself in so many lawsuits. California now matches the ADA by requiring this distance to be a range of between 16” and 18”, any number between those two numbers is acceptable.
Toilet Tissue Dispenser; CBC 1115.8.4 : CBC requires the tissue dispenser to be 36” max from back wall, Federal Code 694.7 requires it to be between 7 -9” from the front of the Toilet seat, that dimension might push the toilet dispenser beyond the 36” required by the CBC, this 36” is no longer required, as long as the dispenser is 7-9” in front of the toilet seat (measured to the center line of the dispenser).
Mounting heights of signs; The California building codes CBC 1117B.5.7 requires (some) signs to be installed at absolute 60” from the floor to the center line of sign; the 2010 ADA specifies a range where signs need to be posted 48”-60”, currently, signs are to be mounted between 48” -60” AFF, remember this item is a readily achievable items and all location should start working on relocating their signs.
Items constructed in compliance with previous codes; CBC 1134B; requires that when you have limited construction, the ADA items along the path of travel to the new remodel area be altered even if they were recently altered, to comply with new codes, that covers path rooms, drinking fountains, signs and public phones; the exception in the 2010 ADA code is adopted to allow the items that comply with the prior standards (CBC 2010 and CBC 2007 only) to remain until they themselves are altered.
In California alone over 12,000 private suits have been filed under the ADA, (one lawyer in Sacramento filed 300 law suits) typically these actions seek not only to have infractions corrected but also an award of monetary damages to the plaintiff. The cost of settling either in court or out of it will far exceed the cost of paying for any remediation. California accounts for 42% of all ADA litigation nationwide. Don’t be the next one.
Don’t delay taking the first crucial step on making sure business property or facility meet ADA guidelines. It is the Law, Engage a qualified CASp firm to do an ADA survey of your premises and give you a confidential report of findings, potential solutions to base your implementation plan on; make sure the firm is qualified and have the proper insurance and experience.
City & County of San Francisco
Office of Small Business Presents
"August was an extremely difficult month for nine small businesses on Ocean Avenue who suffered great losses due to a four-alarm fire. Since then, Mayor Lee, the Office of Small Business and many City departments have come together to provide assistance in helping these businesses get back on their feet."
"Bassam Altwal, Certified Access Specialist from CalAccessibility, has donated his personal time to conduct ADA-related inspections for these businesses."
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cause legal headaches for businesses
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