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.

133 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

    • Mindy Zumba says:

      I too ride a bike, an electric that weighs 50#. I am 72 and have a rule that if I can’t lift the bike onto my bike rack, I can’t ride the bike. Reason: Can’t be waiting in parking lots for a “big strong person” to ‘help’ lift my bike….

      Perhaps you need to get there early, and lift your own bike….? just a thought!

  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.

    • Barbara Monror says:

      I completely agree, and without an advocate at the least anyone with a mental emparment does not get equal access to the courts, police, or equal access to the DAs. Bottom line non visual disabilities are not given help like if one were in a wheel chair, need brail, or a reader.
      It’s discrimination within a class, I’m fighting it now with the Sonoma County Courts. They have refused my legal paperwork, oral argument, so where’s equal protection?

  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

    • Richard, I am sure this is too late for the particular case you mentioned here, and I don’t know the answer to your question about how many units must be accessible (and that will also depend at least to some extent on when the building was built and its history of renovations – it gets complicated), but I will comment in case you or someone else finds this helpful another time.

      The Fair Housing Act is actually what governs the sort of modifications you are describing, not the ADA – and that has nothing to do with building codes of this sort. It requires that accommodations be made in a multifamily housing unit if they are “readily achievable”, which includes a few other requirements like being affordable – which can also get complicated, depending on what needs done, the landlord’s overall financial picture, and a whole lot more.

      In most cases such as you describe, however, you can easily widen a doorway enough to allow a wheelchair to pass with one or a couple of minor and very inexpensive techniques, starting with installing offset hinges (like they use on hospital room doors). These allow the door to swing open more widely than normal, since it is no longer opening within the cased door opening but outside it.

      If that doesn’t provide enough space, remove the trim and casing, and that will add another inch or so by exposing the actual frame of the doorway. Removing the door itself may help as well, although of course with a bathroom, this may not be acceptable.

      If those together don’t make the opening big enough, it might be possible to reconstruct the whole doorway and door, depending on the construction of the building. I rebuilt one doorway in my own home and it only cost around $1,000-$1500 – and that was using a very high end contractor. It was also wood frame construction and drywall, in a non-bearing wall; you’ll have a different scenario, of course, with steel, or with masonry, and/or plaster and lathe, and if it’s a bearing wall.

      The tenant *can* be required to foot the bill for such modifications, *and* can be required to put them back to the way they were originally when they leave, but in many cases, it might actually be in the owner’s better interest to a) allow them to remain, and b) possibly even pay for the modifications him or herself.

      If the mods add value to the property (and increasing accessibility probably does), there may be tax credits available dollar for dollar up to $2500 *per unit* – so a direct reduction in property taxes for every dollar spent, which means that up to that point, the owner would not actually be out anything at all.

      An accountant or tax attorney should be consulted before this is undertaken, though, as to any particular circumstance; I am neither, and also not privy to enough of the specific details.


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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?

    • Mindy Zumba says:

      you are not exempt because you are a religious organization and I should THINK that you would WANT to accomodate YOUR PARISIONERS because you could instead of trying to WEASEL OUT….

  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.

      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, we’ll be happy to take a look at it.

  14. Louis Russo says:


  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 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.

    • Carol says:

      I had a similar DMV experience as I was turning in paperwork required for a handicap placard and they are supposed to offer you the lower counter and seat, but the woman at my window right next to it seemed like a bit of a dumb bunny and didn’t think of it so I had to hang on to the edge of the counter while she fumbled with my papers not finding what was in front of her face. She had me leave, I had make calls to confirm my information and come back again when what she didn’t see was there the whole time. I think they need sensitivity training too. Often I have to tell them what to do and when they have to ask someone else there, what I told them was true.

  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,

    • Monica says:

      Hi Lisa: Do you have a letter or email from the Justice Department confirming the ADA applies to either licensed or unlicensed sober living homes. We are dealing with this in our city as well and I would love to get a copy of that letter or email.

  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!

    • Douglas Holman says:

      Oh yea, there are 40 units in the complex.

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      How many parking spaces are there in the complex?

      • Gail says:

        I would have loved to have heard the answer for this one, because my situation is similar. I know that this is 2017? The Park lot was designed with only 2 handicap spaces. There are about 80+. They have now given out permits for 2 Handicap space, leaving others out in the call to walk (where ever) they say?
        Out of 1,809 Apt Units, there are only 3 Spaces total.

        • Dwight Ashdown says:

          I’m out of the country & don’t have access to my code books, so I don’t know what the total # of accessible that would be required f/ 1,800 spaces, but I can tell you that there should be a min of 9 accessible spaces when there are 500 total spaces. I will follow up when I return.

        • Dwight Ashdown says:

          If you can tell me the total number of parking spaces – I can tell you how many accessible spaces should be provided.

  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?


  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.

    • Sharon, as a service dog owner who does service dog legal advocacy and training of businesses and landlords, I can answer that question as a matter of education, but you really should consult with a qualified attorney, as I am not one.

      The answer is, however, going to depend on a lot of things, starting with how many rental units you own, how many units are in the particular building, and whether or not you still occupy the unit while you rent out the space.

      Assuming you have a single family home, *and* occupy it at the same time as your guests, *and* don’t own more than 3 rental units, you almost undoubtedly do not have to accept a service dog if you don’t want to.

      Change any of those three parameters, however, and the rules may well change also.

  34. raechele osborn says:

    my dad broke his hip the other day, and two months ago he had a hip replacement. well he lives in a mobile home park and they will not allow him to put a temporary ramp because they state they are commercial. However there are a number of homes that have these kinds of ramps and are permanent, he only wants it till he recovers what can we do to get to be able to have the ramp?

  35. Francine Fernandez says:

    I have a grand daughter who is 6 months pregnant and lives in an apartment building where the elevator is one from the 1950’s and it is always breaking down taking weeks before it is even fixed, it is a five story apartment building, she lives on the 5th floor making it very difficult for her, is there anyway she can be helped or does this not fall under this act? Thank you for any information you may be able to provide me, can she be released from her lease

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      I wish I could help, but unfortunately pregnancy doesn’t fall under the ADA. We are also an architectural firm, so we can tell you how big the elevator needs to be, or the configuration of the stairs, but your question is really outside our area of expertise.

    • This is a Fair Housing Act question, and the short answer is that pregnancy is not a qualifying disability under the FHA (or the ADA, for that matter, for public situations), so even if some accommodation were possible, there is no way the building would be required to provide it.

      The question of fixing the elevator is an entirely different matter (and one with which I am personally struggling in my own home), depends on local building codes and the specifics of the building, and you will need to start with the local building department to see if there is any way to get the situation rectified if the landlord is unresponsive.

      I am not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. Please consult a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.

  36. Jenna Longshore says:

    Hi, I am opening a mobile salon in a RV. It will be traveling and sometimes parked with salon services performed inside. What are my ADA requirements?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      I would strongly advise you to set up arrangements with brick and mortar salons in the areas you will be traveling / offering services. In the event a disabled person wants to use your services, you can provide those services in a fixed, presumably accessible location.

    • I agree with Dwight, but some RVs may actually be accessible, depending on how big they are, how they are built, and how your entrance is constructed. There are some that are actually purpose-built to accommodate wheelchairs, although I doubt this is what you will be buying.

      You could consult with the manufacturer, however, or a provider of vehicle modifications such as Mobility Works, to see if yours can be retrofitted with a ramp or lift that would allow wheelchair access, but this will definitely not be cheap if it’s even possible.

      Please also check with a qualified attorney in your jurisdiction – and any areas to which you will be traveling with this vehicle, since you will have to meet the code requirements as well as business and occupational licensing laws anywhere you take it and set up shop. You may find it’s too much of an expense and hassle.

  37. Scott Warren says:

    I own a small apartment complex in southern California and had used 2 off street parking spaces for Van Access Parking for a specific tenant. We no longer need it as a Handicap spot. Can I do away with it?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      Without seeing your project, or a drawing, or a photograph, it’s difficult to say. It depends on whether the apartment complex is privately owned, whether there is a pool or other recreation facility that visitors might use and the number of existing parking spaces.

  38. Mark H says:

    are there laws concerning access methods (e.g. access code inputs required) to private/residential elevators?

  39. Kathryn Medley says:

    We are starting a project in an residential area that does not have existing sidewalks, we will have a backhoe working on the road digging holes what types of signage and how are we to deal with the ada requirements in an area that doesn’t have pre-existing sidewalks or a clearly delineated path? We want to be safe and comply. Thank you for your time

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      To be honest, I think you’ll need to go somewhere other than the ADA for what appears to be construction safety and barrier issues.

  40. Jeff Kimmel says:

    Leased building at 2335 Gold River Rd, unit G. Rancho Cordova , Ca. 95670. 50 parking spaces , no disabled parking. Owner unwilling to comply

  41. Lizzy Huo says:

    I am a hair dress in Los Angeles county. I have an opportunity to open my own salon however I would lease the space in a building on the second floor. There are other business’ on the second floor as well. This is a rather old building with only stairs, no elevator. Since this is a pre 1970 building, can I even open a new business in a building that is not ADA accessible?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      Yes, it’s ok to open a business on the 2nd floor, but you should make arrangements with another hair dresser, who is in an accessible location, that you could use their space of a disabled person wanted to use your services. You would be providing “equivalent facilitation”.

  42. John says:

    I was taking my mother in-law to a medical appointment. We are both disabled, however, I’m her care giver. The appointment was in Stockton California. The building is a single story with 10-12 offices having access doors off an inside common area. Also in this common are are bathrooms (one male, one female). When leaving, my mother in-law, who is in a wheelchair needed to use the bathroom. I asked for and received the key for the female bathroom from the medical office. Once inside the bathroom, I discovered three (3) standard stalls, and no wheelchair accessible stall. I’m not looking for money or to file a lawsuit. Just looking for information on who I can report this problem to, so that it maybe resolved.

  43. Josefina says:

    what phone number can I call to have my business inspected for compliance

  44. Dean says:

    SDG&E is refusing to approve my new residential solar installation because they require a 24″ clearance in all directions for their gas meter located on the side of my house. They refuse to grant a 4″ variance for one of the solar meters which is located about 3 feet above and to the right of gas meter. The encroaching solar meter would have to be moved 30 feet over a fixed stucco wall which would require me to walk all the way around the house instead of 10 feet to the current location. I would also be required to allow 24hr/7 day a week access to the Solar Company, SDG&E and City workers into my side and rear yards which is an unnecessary invasion of my privacy. If they trip and fall or have any accident as a result of an alleged dangerous condition of my property they can sue me outside of their workers comp plan and my home owners insurer will be required to pay and then raise my rates or drop my coverage. Can I ask that SDG&E grant the 4″ variance based on the ADA and the severe osteoarthritis I have in my hips and knees? I have had 4 surgeries so far and soon will need double knee and hip replacement surgeries.

  45. Dan says:

    I rent an apartment. there is only one unit on the property. I am disabled. There are no handicapped parking spaces on the property. There also is a huskiness on the property. My LL (who also runs e business here) was ordered by county zoning to install handicapped parking spaces 4 years ago. Nothing has been done. There also are no wheel chair ramps into the business office (building is elevated maybe 3 feet from the ground). Only stairs. The entrance doorway also is not wide enough for a wheelchair (would be a tight angle to enter too for anyone in a wheelchair. I am not sure how many handicapped parking spots county zoning told him to build. Would he need handicapped parking (1 space) for the apartment today? My apartment has it’s own entrance. I also have a handicapped parking placEd and tag for my car. Thank you.

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      You need to talk to an attorney. There are several ADA attorneys listed on my web site, & I would be happy to make a recommendation.

      • Dan says:

        That would be great for a referral. I am trying to fid one on my own, and am striking out on this. I’m somewhat confused though by the recently passed CA law (smaller businesses with < 25 employees can take advantage of the ADA CASP program to avoid being liable for any type of payment. That's how I'd interpreted this new regulation). The thing is he was in fact told to do this 4 + years ago (I know for a fact). My concern is maybe county zoning would have no record of this (it was in a citation)? Or, my LL would suddenly have amnesia. Thanks too.

  46. kim weith says:

    The other day the mall security in the mall I was shopping turned off the escalators. I am perminately handicapped and it is difficult for me to walk. So my wife asked the security officer to turn on the escalator and the reply was you have to walk to the end of the mall and use the elevator, once the escalator was turned off they could not turn it back on. Just looking for clarification if this considered harassment and or is against ADA guidelines


    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      It sounds like the issue could have been handled better by mall security, but it doesn’t sound as though anything occurred which would be a violation of the ADA.

  47. kim weith says:

    To add the previous blog, this is not the first time this malls security has done this.

  48. Michelle Pedraza says:

    The home we own was previously used as a hospice care home. It appears to be completely ADA compliant. We are going to be renovating our back patio and will be demoing the current one completely. Our deck builder has said when they build the new deck, it will start two inches lower than the current one in purser to meet code standards. We do not have anyone who lives here that needs it to be ADA, just aging parents that visit. That two inch step down will make it difficult for them to navigate, especially one parent who can’t do any steps at at all. Even though we are not a business, can we still have our home to be ADA compliant? Are there different codes for residents vs businesses? Thank you

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      The ADA, as you obviously know, is all about, “goods and services to the public”. On one hand, as a private residence, you are not required to comply w/ the ADA. If you are making changes to your residence, however, you will most likely need a building permit, which, coincidentally uses the California Building Code & has essentially the same requirements as the ADA. I’m perplexed about why your deck builder says the new deck needs to be 2″ lower to meet current code standards.

  49. JP Stephens says:

    What is the current height and reach requirements for wheel chair access to a night drop at a financial institution. I have 54″ for side reach and 48″ for front reach. Also, is there a reference that can be sited that anyone knows about?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      The section in our ebook – ADA4CA – on ATM’s & Gas Pumps addresses this issue. The height limit is 48″, whether it’s front or side approach – reaching over a 10″ max. horizontal obstruction.

  50. Scott says:

    I live in an Apartment complex in San Jose, CA that was built in 1979 with over 300 units. There are four ADA parking spots close to my Apt. but when I get sick due to the terminal disease I have and leave my car parked which is permitted with a sticker from the complex for residential vehicles and also have disability license plates. I get threating sticker’s on my car windows from the Maintenance manager that it will be towed due to parking longer than 72hrs all the time. I’m then instructed to go park in another parking lot 300 to 400+ yards away with no sidewalk from the parking lot and then many stairs before I can get back to my Apt. that has ADA spots 100ft away and my disability license plates are for mobility reasons. They are building a new Apt. Building and have public access for their leasing office. Can anyone tell me if a violation has been committed by treating me this way? BTW there is nothing in our lease that says we residents or visitors with passes have a minimum or max days cars can be parked. If this is a violation please contact me so we can get a case going.
    Thank You!

  51. Veronica says:

    I work for a state agency. We are located on private property renting a space in an old army depot. There are only 2 handicapped spots for over 75 people on our side and the call center over 75 people. I have a temporary placard and there are definitely more than 2 individuals on both sides with either a red or blue placard
    Today I almost got towed because I parked at a closer spot due to the handicapped spots being taken. Is there anything that can be done to add additional handicapped spots?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      I’m not sure how many parking spaces are in the lot. If there are 75 spaces – there should be 3 accessible parking stalls. If there are 76 – 100 total spaces, there should be 4 accessible parking stalls.

  52. Michael says:

    I am finishing construction of an 18 unit apartment building in the City of Los Angeles. I have an ADA compliant lift going up/down the handrail for the entrance to the building. When down, all of the mechanical equipment is on may property but the lift platform encroaches the City sidewalk during ingress/egress. The lift is stored at the top when not in use, so the only time of encroachment is in the down position.
    Keeping aside whether the City would allow the encroachment, if allowed, would this create an ADA violation issue? Is there anything that can be done? I am told by the manufacturer that they cannot fabricate a platform that will remain solely on my side of the property.
    I thank you in advance for your thoughts.

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      If the lift encroaches into the City’s property (presuming they allow that), my concern is less regarding an ADA issue and more regarding a potential tripping hazard when the lift is down. WE have on occasion, when a temporary ramp is used to provide access over a single step, also used orange traffic cones to alert pedestrians about a potential tripping hazard.

  53. Gina says:

    I live in a senior housing apt building in San Diego Ca. We have three sides of our building streets used by the MTS transportation system for bus depo and trolley. The buses are parked directly in front of our entrance where the disability ramp is and the small one car white loading zone is located at the end of the block. The busses are blocking emergency vehicle access and the residents are being picked up daily by disability medical transit buses which are supposed to go to the white zone down the block but it is always being used by someone. Instead the medical vans are parking in the red zones directly in front of the disability ramp for loading/ unloading. The bus drivers get angry and beep their horns block traffic on the street and yell at the elderly residents. I have been writing and providing photos and calling so many city employees and agencies, attorneys, ADA compliance officers about this for 8 months yet they all say we can use the little white zone up the street because they need the area for the three busses parked there each day. Who can I contact to do a formal assessment of this as everyone else has not even really addressed the issue. One guy to,d me we had a building design defect after talking to him for 5 minutes on the phone and he did not even see the photos yet! Please anyone help!!!

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      Have you contacted the San Diego Office of ADA Compliance & Accessibility?
      Suite 924, MS-56G
      San Diego, CA 92101

  54. Melanie says:

    I am looking for someone to give me advice on how to make my home ADA compliant for an elderly aunt and uncle. Are there any good resources in Contra Costa County? Thanks!

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      What I suspect you are looking for is advice about how to make your home “accessible” for your aunt and uncle. The ADA and the accessibility requirements of the California Building Code are specifically for “facilities offering goods and services to the public.” As to making your home more accessible, an architect or a good contractor can help you. You can also find accessibility requirements in our digital guide to accessibility compliance in California (ADA4CA) which is available on iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Nobel.

  55. Amanda Lynn Ceballos says:

    Hello, I am disabled and live in an apartment complex…they have NO handicap oatking spots so gave me a carport spot near my apartment. My issue is this, There used to be a clear path to get out of my car and walk or wheel myself into where my apartment is. Well, the manager made the center aisle. ..whete the path used to be..into an additional parking space. Now there is no clear path to get into my apartment and the manager is collecting more money per month for the “new” parking space. Is this legal? ..doesn’t this violate the clear pathway laws for the ADA?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      From your description, it appears that there should be a “loading aisle” adjacent to an accessible parking space – which should be as close as possible to the entrance to your building – and there should be a path of travel from the loading aisle to the building entrance.

  56. Mark Allen says:

    I am in a wheelchair. I have to go to my local hospital (in California) for some outpatient services. My problem is that I cannot open the rest room door from the hallway into the bathroom or from inside the bathroom back out into the hallway. It’s the same with every bathroom accessible to the public. There isn’t any type of automatic device for opening the door to get into or out of the bathroom. If I’m by myself, I have to wait for someone to come along to open the door for me. Once inside the bathrooms, the stalls and the sinks are accessible. It’s getting into and out of the bathrooms that is a problem. I know other people have the same problem. But nothing has ever been done in response to complaints. Are hospitals exempt from the ADA?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      Hospitals also need to comply with the ADA. From your description, I’m not sure what the issue is about getting access into the restrooms. It could be that the door pressure is too high, or it could be a configuration issue with walls around the door – but it sounds like something needs to be done to address the issue.

  57. Dagmar says:

    I am looking to lease a retail/workspace on the second floor. There isn’t an elevator at the building, which was probably built in the early 80’s.

    Will I be out of compliance as a renter? Or do you know where I can find more info?

    Thanks Dwight for all your informative answers!!

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      What sort of retail space are you creating & how big is the space? It’s often possible for businesses on a 2nd floor to create alternate accommodations to provide for customers.

  58. Ken Cole says:

    This may be outside this venue, if so I stand corrected.

    I moved into a HUD complex on April 1, 2014. Jan. 28, 2017 tenants on floors 7-8 were compensated and displaced for a complete makeover of our apartments, I live on 8. I returned on May 1, 2016. The first thing I noticed, my countertops had been lowered. Regardless of what anyone says to the contrary, this is ergonomically unacceptable for me, being I am 6’1.

    I went to the leasing agent to question this anomaly. She didn’t bother to look at me but merely waved her hand and said all the countertops are the same height. I had no choice but to settle in with this quandary and made a decision and start saving to move. Then I visited a friends apt and saw his countertops were the industry standard of 36″. I took picture of his and mine side by side. Showed it to management and they still maintained they were all the same height and ignored me.

    For the next few months I corresponded with this housing authority, until I caught the attention of the regional manager, likely because I registered his letter. He called and asked to visit, upon his arrival, accompanied by our maintenance person, who having seen the pictures and the stove above the countertop, still maintained all the countertops are the same height. The R/M inspected this anomaly and the maintenance man still stated the countertops are all the same, I said no they are not and the R/M turned and asked which were not, I told him which apt my friend lived in and he headed that way. When he returned he stated I was correct and he would see about fixing this mistake and the maintenance person apologized. I never heard back from him, one day I found him in the hallway and asked what is the plan and he stated that I needed to put in a request for a reasonable accommodation, which makes no sense, in my reasoning all of ADA constitutes a reasonable accommodation, however, I did not nor would I request it. Furthermore, had I known they were going to do this I would not be on this blog?

    In my investigation I found out there are several ADA designated apt’s, on my floor there is only one and it has an industry standard of 36″ and out of the other nine apt’s four have misplaced ADA compliant countertops. I know of two elderly women who are confined to wheelchairs and living in designated ADA apt’s and their countertops are not ADA compliant they complain to no avail.

    I am 73 and the only retirement I am left with SSA and I’m stuck in what feels like the Hotel California.

  59. Michelle says:

    Hi, I hope someone here can assist me. I live in California in the San Francisco Bay area.
    I live in a Home owners association complex.

    I am having an issue with our HOA not enforcing the rules of parking over driveways and across sidewalks. My uncle and mother are both handicapped. One needs a walker and the other has balance issues and uses a cane.

    My development is concidered “Private Property” so the police said they cannot issue tickets for these overhanging cars because of this. My HOA is unresponsive to my inquiries about issuing warnings to the violators and just recently the HOA sent out a flyer stating:

    “If your vehicle does not fit in your driveway without parking at an angle and extends over the sidewalk and into the street, you are in violation,” which I am a bit confused about because it looks as if they are saying that you can park over the sidewalk as long as you dont extend into the street.

    Is there anyone who can help from the ADA? It does not make sense to me that just because we are on private property that the policy will not ticket these violators. Is there anything the ADA can do to help my HOA realize that we are asking for the most basic of safety and access rights in our community by providing at the minimum a safe and clear path to walk on instead of being forced to walk in a weaving pattern being forced into the street and around cars parked across sidewalks?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      Without seeing the specifics of your situation, it’s difficult to say – but from what you’ve said, it appears that the HOA has a responsibility under the ADA to provide a clear path of travel from the public way to each residence.

  60. Michelle says:

    Hi Dwight, is there any way I can send you some pictures of the issue. You’ll see that we are forced to walk in the street where cars zip around the corners almost hitting me and my mom several times. Its heartstopping.

  61. Brian Williams says:

    Good afternoon. My son with disabilities attends an elementary school. Most children in his class have ambulatory issues. All have mental development issues. There is not one entrance to the school, school buildings, or classroom that has an automatic door opener. When questioned about this I was told because there is always some one there to help get thought the doors it’s okay. This isn’t true. But even if someone were is that answer/situation acceptable? Is a public school allowed to not be in ADA compliance? Thank you for your response.

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      A public school is absolutely required to comply with the ADA and the California Building Code. Stationing a person at the door is not a substitute. The door can either have the required clearances and be operable with 5 lbs. of pressure – or have a powered door operator with high/low buttons inside and outside.

      • Brian Williams says:

        Thank you, Mr. Ashdown for replying. I will have to investigate further to learn why my son’s school isn’t in compliance. Definitely don’t have powered doors. Maybe the #5 pressure is what they use.

        Have a great day.


  62. Drew says:


    General question: we’re currently remodeling a unit within an existing high-rise multi-family building (flats are privately owned, not rented) in LA. I’ve been told we need to meet ADA within the unit-notably the bathrooms, is this correct? There are two elevators in the building. Thanks!

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      From your description, it appears that the building department would require that you make provisions to make the bathroom accessible at a later date – which would typically include adding blocking inside the walls to support future grab bars and installing a door that provides 32″ of clearance when the door is open at 90 degrees.

  63. James Doyle says:

    I live in a private HOA community with a pool that is used by residents and their guests. If I offer swimming lessons to non residents who come and go on a routine basis am I and the HOA subject to ADA compliance?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      From your description, it sounds as though the pool facility is open to the public, ie. guests of residents, and is therefore required to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

  64. Martha Russell says:

    I have a neighbor who has converted the handicap access corner curb into his private second driveway. How do I and with whom do I file a complaint?

    • Dwight Ashdown says:

      I would start with a conversation with your Building Department – and take photos to show them.

      • K.C Seeley says:

        My husband is 92 and now confined to a wheelchair following a stroke. Back in Jan.2017 i moved us into a condo. Renting a unit from a private individual who owns tbe unit. He has been accomidating,on the other hand the HOA has not. For instance the lights have been out on the south entrance to our building for over 6 months. I have repeatedly sent emails and phone calls which mgt. Stated they will have it taken care of yet nothing ever happend. Now my husband has bruised his hands and skinned his shins attempting to enter after dark yet mgt has not responded to our request at all. Also the issue of handicapped parking spaces we were told nothing they could do because spaces are deeded to owners? Building built 1989

  65. Jenny Lynn says:

    I live in an apartment building in Los Angeles called Virgil Square. The address is 411 S Virgil Ave. There are two elevators in the structure, with 4 floors including the parking garage. For the last three months, they have been broken down. I myself have had recent work on my knees, and there is an elderly gentleman who has advanced Parkinson’s disease and has literally been a prisoner in the building. This is not right. The elevators have both had notes on them for what feels like an eternity saying a solution is coming. Please help us.

  66. Pingback: Attorney Accused of Filing ADA Complaints for Clients Who Don't Exist - FindLaw

  67. JD Hodge says:

    I’m an ADA who has been denied my right to have a ADA equivalent home or a safe place for an ADA to live in Sacramento County California. When I presented my fax to the judge in Sacramento County stating that the home was unsafe for me considering I had surgery February 18, 2021 lower back fusion surgery. The three-bedroom home that I was in was deemed unsafe because of the floors being uneven caused me to fall in the home and move my metal cage that’s in my back which is caused medical complications and now I have to have another invasive surgery to correct the problem and or remove the titanium cage. The judge said the home was unsafe gave us a stipulation order to move out in 30 days I told him that I would be using the assistance of Sacramento County agencies to help relocate into an ADA equivalent home, which was to know Advil after the stipulation order was March 16,2022, myself my son were kicked out on the street with nowhere to go I go to DHA in my fucking wheelchair and I was denied housing know where to go I was told that DHA in Sacramento county wasn’t gonna help me even after being homeless on my wheelchair. Emergency surgeries coming up next month to remove my titanium cage and I still don’t have an ADA acquired home that way no further medical complications will arise with my cage even having a surgeons recommendations.

  68. rahim tahjuddin says:

    My mother was diagnosed with brain cancer last august(2021) and was losing motor function and lived on the second floor with no elevator. The only thIng i asked for was grip tape on the stare well because several people have fallen on them including my mom prior to her illness. Every other week they would pour water on all the stare wells to clean them and the water would be translucid, this was a problem for my mother that was using a walker and would collapse while walking do to her disability. I called the city about it and the apartment building harassed her till the day she died which happen to be the same day they installed the grip-tape as well as the inspection day 12/17/22.

  69. Rhonda says:

    I live an apt and care for my elderly disabled mom. Our apt is next to a fire an exit entrance that they are now saying I can ni can no longer drop my mom off at because she can’t walk to far due to heart ann mobility issues. They are denying us that hat ten second drop off saying it’s a fire access road . Can they do this? I’m freaking out I can’t afford to move but my mom has to go to Dr appts every 3 months. What can I do? Please anyone advise me I live in California

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