California ADA

ADA4CACalifornia – one of the most ADA compliant states in the nation – is also the most ADA litigious.  Under California law, any violation of the ADA is considered a civil rights violation and subject to a minimum statutory penalty of $4,000, plus attorney’s fees.

Any disabled person who encounters a building condition that does not meet the accessibility requirements of the ADA or the California Building Code (CBC) is entitled to file a lawsuit and receive a minimum of $4,000 in statutory damages plus attorney’s fees.

While the ADA laws were enacted to protect  the rights of the disabled, they have also led to an expensive flood of ADA lawsuits by individuals intent on taking advantage of the system.

It is estimated that over 20,000 ADA lawsuits have been filed in California courts since enactment of the ADA in 1992, and conservative estimates indicate that this litigation costs California businesses over $20 million each year.

ADA lawsuits are difficult to defend and typically result in minimum payouts of $4,000 – $6,000, even if the lawsuit is uncontested.  Fortunately, there is now an effective defense against such lawsuits.

Newly Available Protections

Recent California legislation provides essential protections for business and property owners from unwarranted ADA lawsuits.

Senate Bill 1608 enables business and property owners to have their facilities inspected for access compliance by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp).

A CASp inspection will:

  • Protect against unwarranted ADA lawsuits
  • Insure compliance with federal and state accessibility requirements
  • Identify “readily achievable” issues requiring correction
  • Provide reasonable time frames to make required corrections
  • Insure that your business is accessible to all potential customers, regardless of disability

Even if a building is not fully accessible, a CASp inspection provides a business owner with immediate protection by identifying “readily achievable” issues for correction and establishing an intent to address required accessibility issues.

Tax Benefits

Tax credits and deductions are available to help pay for inspection and construction costs. A tax credit of up to $5,000 is available for small businesses that incur expenses related to accessibility improvements.

A tax deduction of up to $15,000 per year is also available to all businesses for qualified accessibility expenses that are normally capitalized.

Check with your tax advisor regarding the applicability of these credits and deductions.

Protect yourself, your property and your pocketbook

The best protection against expensive and time consuming ADA lawsuits is to have your business or property inspected, as soon as possible, for access compliance by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp).

Ashdown Architecture is a full service architectural firm with significant expertise addressing complex access compliance issues in buildings and facilities throughout California.  We are committed to improving access to the built environment for individuals with disabilities, by providing information, education and solutions to business and property owners.  Ashdown Architecture is certified by the California Division of State Architect as a Certified Access Specialist (CASp).

Contact us today for additional information about the invaluable, cost effective benefits a CASp inspection can provide.

56 Responses to California ADA

  1. david sztain says:

    I own and reside in a Long Beach condo building of 225 units. When I moved into the building in 2009 there were no rules as to where to store a bicycle. Starting July 1st, 2012 all bicycles are mandated to be stored in a bicycle room for $3.00 per month. One third of the racks are at low level and accessible to ADA people like myself, while the rest require lifting the bicycle on a shelf or hook. The assignment of space has been awarded on a first come first serve basis with no regard for accessibility. Is there an ADA code regulating bicycle storage facilities in Condominiums?
    Thank you

  2. Jose Ortega says:

    Hi , I am a trustee of a Elks lodge, how much does one of these ADA Certified Access Specialist Inspection COST? Are there special rules exceptions when it come to Non-for-Profits such as the Elks??How can I reach someone that can help us with this issue?

  3. Michael Abbott says:

    My question is this: Is a private club (we are a golf course) exempt from California ADA requirements?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      As a private club, you are not required to comply w/ the ADA. Depending on your club house, however, & your relationship w/ the City, I can imagine a requirement to comply w/ State / CBC requirements if you get a building permit f/ changes / renovations.

  4. Emmett Smith says:

    my son is mentally disabled and has been served notices and had a judgement made against him because he did not receive accommodations from the Superior Court of California. The ASA Coordinator for the court only argues about why they don’t have to do it. They are closed on Friday and he needs something done before Monday. Notice was served to him by the Sheriff posting something on his bedroom door on Wednesday while he was gone. His disability prevented him from responding yesterday when he got home. The ADA Rep will only tell me what he should have done or tries to make it some other agency responsibility and the Clerk of the Court, after she was notified that he is disabled, says that it is too late and nothing can be done. Right now, The Superior Court of California is not in compliance with the ADA.

  5. richard brown says:

    Im a general contractor and recieved a call from a tennant thats weel chair bound and rented an apt and can no longer access the bathroom shower. the doorway is to small to get her power chair through management wants to just change the shower tub to a shower. my question how many units in a 300 unit complex must be ada compliance 36″ doorway, sink to pull up to, shower big enought to get into, and a bath big enougth to turn around in a wheel chair

  6. Sinan says:

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    i’m fresh graduated architecture engineering and i live in Sacramento 95841
    i’m very interesting to work as a training in any architecture firm in this city
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  7. Lisa says:

    I understand that we are exempt from ADA requirements as a religious organization, but are there other building code requirements on ramps, parking, etc. for handicapped in which we need to comply?

  8. Kathy Goodspeed says:

    We have some accessibility issues with the sidewalks and telephone poles that are in the center of the walks. This does not allow for a wheelchair to travel on the sidewalk. Also, the walks have huge cracks so there are different levels in the walk. In addition, at one point wheel chairs must circumvent blockage by traveling into the street which has a 45 mph speed limit. Is there a source to let the city know they need to do corrections? Is this an ADA non-compliance issue?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      If you live in California, it sounds like the City certainly has some issues that need to be corrected. Both the ADA and the California Building code require accessible paths of travel – which in California, is typically 48″, but can be 36″ upon approval of enforcing agency. I would suggest calling / writing your mayor / city manager & starting a conversation with them.

  9. Barbara Acosta says:

    I have been living in a rented apartment in Alameda County, California since 1989. My husband and my 91-year old mother live with me, and they are both disabled. On July 20, our landlady served us with a 60-day Termination of Tenancy notice as of August 1, 2013. She is renovating all the units in the apartment building and cannot renovate our unit while it is occupied, so we have to vacate by October 1st. Given that my husband and my mother are disabled, that limits the choices of accessible housing from which to choose, therefore it may take us longer than 60 days to find suitable housing that meets their needs. Is there a provision in the ADA which requires the property owner to extend the time we require to find alternate housing, due the the special needs of my husband and my mother?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      Housing providers are required to make reasonable accommodations for tenants with disabilities, but they are not required to make changes that would create an undue financial or administrative burden.
      See: HUD.gov

      I would hope that a reasonable conversation with the building owner can resolve this issue.

      • Barbara Acosta says:

        You state the the owner is “not required to make changes that would create and undue financial or administrative burden.” Did you mean “not allowed” vs “not required?” I have not had a chance to talk with her as yet. I just need to know if she is required to allow us more time if we need it, due to the disabilities we have to accommodate. We are looking but we are limited as to what is functional for our needs. She wants to increase the rents in the units after the work is completed. Our current rent is $1482.00 but she will be asking about $2300.00 going forward. All four units in the building (2 upper, 2 lower with outside entrances, so no elevator) are 3 BR, 1 & 1/2 bath. As she did not offer to let us rent the other downstairs unit once it is completed, I can only assume she simply does not want to rent to us anymore, or perhaps she assumed we could not afford the new amount she wants. Please let me know if the ADA requires that special needs tenants be granted the time needed to relocate, rather than sticking to a strict schedule set by the property owner. Thank you.

  10. Joseph says:

    I understand that when a Wheelchair person goes out they need to use the sidewalk what if the sidewalk is raised in areas and you are unable to safely use it the cement is raised what does a person in a wheelchair do

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      Not knowing where you live, or anything specific about the specific conditions, it’s difficult to say exactly what should be done – but I would start by calling the mayor’s office, and then speaking with the department of public works.

  11. Samuel Montgomery says:

    I Recently Moved Into An apartment Complex. There Are Very Few Handicap Parking Spaces Available, And None On My Side Of The Building. Where Can I Find Information On The Requirements For Parking Spaces?

    Thank You

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      Parking requirements for multi-unit residential buildings vary depending on when the building was constructed / first occupied, who owns the building, and whether public money funded construction of the building. In general, if your building was originally occupied after 3/13/91, then the requirements of the California Building Code Chapter 11A apply.
      A friendly conversation with the owner might be the first step in attempting to resolve this issue.

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      Parking requirements for residential buildings vary – depending on when the building was constructed / first occupied, who owns the building, and whether public money was involved in funding construction of the building.
      In general, the requirements for parking for multi-unit residential units are contained in the California Building Code Chapter 11A.
      You might address this issue by initiating a friendly conversation with the building owner.

  12. Frankie Li says:

    My 34 year old Deaf son went to the DMV to take his written driving test today for the 3rd time. Again he was not afforded a copy of the test to study again as he is deaf and “they don’t do that”. Why is it if you are hearing you can have a copy of the questions to study with if you fail, but if you are deaf or hearing impaired you do not have this right. This is discrimination at its worst. If he were an illegal alien who spoke only Spanish he would get a copy in Spanish, but because he is deaf and only reads English, he gets nothing. I want to know what folks think of that. We went to the Rancho Cucamonga, California DMV office on Hellman. I find this just the worst thing, he is being discriminated against.

  13. Louis Russo says:

    A non-profit has multiple access points to its building. One, a sidewalk built in 1995, is not compliant, but there are other ways to enter the parking lot/building that are. Is it OK for this one accessway to remail open?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      It’s great that the building has multiple access points – but it’s difficult to comment on the sidewalk that’s not compliant, without knowing what the compliance issues are and the normal function that the sidewalk performs. Does the sidewalk, for instance, provide a path of travel from accessible parking stalls, or a path of travel from the street? If you want to send a sketch or photo to ada@ashdownarch.com, we’ll be happy to take a look at it.

  14. Louis Russo says:

    *remain

  15. Steven Brock says:

    I am disabled and live in an private community governed buy a strict HOA. They have very restrictive parking rules. Specifically, they do not allow residents to park in their own driveway (other than a brief time for unloading) and residents are not allowed to park in designated guest parking areas. The problem is I have a one car garage and if my wife is in the garage, my only option is to park outside the neighborhood witch requires me to walk across six lanes of Madison Ave. A friend, who lives in a similar kind of community, told me that as an ADA citizen I am exempt from any and all rules restricting parking within the HOA. Is that true?

  16. Alex says:

    I
    I am a truck driver with for a local county in northern Ca. I have been on disability for almost 9 months due to a battle with cancer and a recent surgery to remove it. My surgeon is releasing me to go back to work with some heavy restrictions to my duties, and the county says they may not be able to accommodate me. Is this legal? Don’t they have to accommodate me?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      This is somewhat outside my area of expertise (as an architect), but its my understanding that your employer needs to make accommodations for you. You might call the ADA Information line at 800.514.0301.

  17. Byron says:

    I am opening a new business in CA, and the city is requiring us to install a new egress door. The problem is, this egress door leads out to nothing but dirt and grass. I was told by the cities chief building official that we have to have a 5′ x 5′ landing pad outside the door, and that’s all. However, one of his inspectors is telling me that he is wrong, and that we must connect that pad to an existing walkway, 15′ away. Who do I listen to?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      It sounds like a matter of interpretation. I would discuss this with the chief building official, tell him what the inspector said, & my guess is that the 5′-0″ pad will be sufficient.

  18. james bryant says:

    We have a dressing room bench that is 21in wide and 43in long per fed ada 5ft turnig in front of bench and 2ft 7 clear on the end does this also meet cal ada

  19. Chris A says:

    I am hearing impaired with one hearing aide and a cochlear implant in the other ear. It is becoming increasing harder for me to hear on the phone, in fact I have been texting as my first method of communication. On Tues I had a hearing test done, my hearing loss is progressively getting worse. Must cellular companies offer visual texting FREE to people under ADA? I live in CA. I am certified by the State of CA to be legally deaf.

  20. Lisa Morlan says:

    We have a number of unlicensed sober living-group homes in Orange County that are not ADA compliant, and the City does not enforce the ADA requirements upon these homes. Because individuals with addictions are considered disabled, the house in which they reside in, by law, need to be ADA compliant (according to the Justice Department in Washington D.C). My question is: How can the City be held accountable to enforce ADA upon these facilities? I am not disabled and do not wish to sue; however, our City is doing nothing to hold these businesses accountable. Please advise.
    Thank you,
    Lisa

  21. Douglas Holman says:

    I live in what is called an ADA compliant apartment complex. All the apartments are compliant but I have only seen the downstairs units. My question is the parking lot. There is only one handicapped space and there is approximately 40 units, is this ADA compliant and legal? If it is declaring to be ADA compliant isn’t there some kind of code requiring multiple handicapped parking stalls.
    The building was constructed in 2009.

    Thank you in advance for your answer!

  22. Thomas Paign says:

    Did you know that many of the fire extinguishers as installed within big box retail stores violate the ADA and ANSI A117.1 on multiple counts? They are both too high (higher than 48 inches to the handle) and they protrude too far (more than 4 inches) into the adjacent path of travel. This violates the civil rights of wheelchair users, people of small stature, and the blind.

  23. Yong Kim says:

    I have a commercial property in Los Angeles. And previous owner created handicapped parking zone when he allowed customers to park in the lot.
    However, I now use the parking for my personal use and it is gated.

    Last week as I was coming to my parking lot, parking enforcement tailed me and entered parking lot before gate closed and tried to issued tickets for blocking handicapped zone.

    My question is can I remove all the signs for handicap parking now that the lot is not available for public or customer?

    or do I have to get permit to remove from city?

    thansk

  24. Claudine says:

    I work in a building with five businesses and two residences, there is only one handicapped parking space that one of the residences parks permanently in, her car rarely moves. She has two cars one is parked in a regular space & the other is in the handicap. This creates no handicap parking spaces for customers. Is this compliant in San Diego County? If not what can be done? A conversation has taken place with the owner of the building, he is not willing to give the tenant her own residential handicap spot and leave another handicapped spot for customers. He’s not willing to do anything.
    Thank you for your help

  25. Claudia says:

    Hello, we are thinking of leasing the second floor of a renovated Victorian home for our business. The business is an office where we service insurance claims but the nature of the business is such that we would not have business invitees (such as insureds and claimants). The building has an exterior stairway to access the level we are going to lease. There is no elevator and one is not contemplated. For our use, it is fine but does it have to have an elevator just for the sake of use as a business, despite the lack of being for actual “public” use? Thank you!

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      From your description, I would say that the second floor does not need an elevator. If you do lease the space, and you ever do meet with clients, I would encourage you to develop a brief written manual for procedures to meet disabled clients at an alternate location.
      Even though there is no elevator, there are specific requirements for doors, stairs, handrails and restroom facilities, which should be addressed.

  26. Julie says:

    I work in a State Government office on the second floor. It has one elevator on the West side of the building. There are stairs on the West side, mid-way, and on the East side of the building which is secured. There is handicap parking on each side of the building, but with no additonal elevators and very limited handicap parking people with disabilities are struggling. Can you tell me what if anything can be done about this matter? There is a neighboring building that has parking right in from of ours on the West side that refuses to allow anyone including those with handicap placards to park there or else be towed. Can you assist with further information?

  27. Danny mann says:

    Who is the responsible for ADA requirements the building owner or the renter, for code corrections?

  28. Laurie Allread says:

    I have an ADA placard for my car and we go to Dodger Stadium alot through out the year. We have been told by employees that if all the marked stalls are taken and we haven’t paid the $35 to park in the closer lot that we have to park in a different lot , which is quite a bit farther to walk because I only paid the $15 general parking fee. Is this right?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      I am an architect, and although I don’t approve of the way you’ve been treated, your question is really more of a legal question than an architectural one.

  29. Connie Idyllwild says:

    I have lived at my current residence for 1 year now. Last month I was prescribed by my Dr an Emotional Support Pet. This week I received an eviction notice stating that the dog I have was not prior approved and outweighed the current apartment pet policy. Do I have a right to request reasonable accommodations for my Support animal and if my Landlord refuses, what can I do?

  30. Brenda says:

    Does Ca law trump Federal or vice versa? We have a private community pool with 220 members. We have a swim team, which makes us a public entity (they allow nonmembers to join). We have been told to get 2 modes of entry into the pool. I would like swim team to pay for 2 chair lifts since we would be private and therefore not legally have to put in chair lifts without the team being there. Please advise.

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      In California, both the Federal ADA and the State codes apply. 90% of the time both requirements are exactly the same with exactly the same language. Where there are discrepancies between the State and Federal requirements, the strictest requirement applies.
      Regarding your swim team issues, it appears that you need to have a conversation / negotiation with the swim team to resolve who is going to pay for the required improvements.

  31. Terry Brewer says:

    I own a condo in Anaheim Ca. My son has recently become handicapped and in a wheelchair. We have handicap parking and visitor parking. But we have No Ramps or other ways for handcap people to get to the condo’s. I have asked the HOA at a meeting if we could install a temporary ramp in a common area so our son can be able to get in and out of our condo in the case of an emergency. I had a company build us a 2 ramps. One for our porch, and one for the common area. It was built to as close to code as possible with the length of walk way we had. They allowed us to keep the porch ramp and denied the common area ramp. They said it was not safe. And told us we can’t install the ramp because it isn’t safe. I paid to have these ramps made and they haven’t even seen the ramp or inspected the ramp. Just said no. What can I do? Terry

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      I encourage you to contact a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) in your area, describe the situation and see if they can help create a resolution with your HOA.

  32. Elaine quitugua says:

    I live in Sacranento ca, my parents shop at the 99 cent store they incountered a problem, my dad uses a power scooter to get around, well he can no long go into that store because his power scooter can’t fit down the isle and has a hard time making turns, I even had a hard time fitting the shopping cart because of all the boxes and pallets that are in the way and also by the produce area, I need help, I tried contacting the store but I got no where with them.

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      First thought is to contact the store and express your concerns by registered mail. If the store doesn’t respond / address the issues, then we suggest contacting an attorney. There are several attorney’s who are familiar with ADA issues listed on our web site.

  33. Sharon says:

    My husband and I are Airbnb hosts and rent out one bedroom in our primary residence to potential guests, usually for one week or less. Recently, we received an inquiry and the potential guest indicated that they had a service animal. Although we do not allow pets (we have our own small dog who is people-friendly but not always dog-friendly), I felt I should tread carefully concerning this request. Are there any laws concerning welcoming service animals into my home if I am running a business from said home? Airbnb always indicates that we set the rules in our own homes but suggested if I want more information, to contact my local government. I live in an unincorporated area of Santa Barbara County. Thank you for any information you can provide.

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      I wish I could help you, but as an architect, you’re asking something that’s outside my area of expertise. Your City office may be able to help you, but it may also require a conversation with an attorney.

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