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Tag Archives: Non-compliance with ADA

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As a continuation of our previous newsletter which was directed at addressing building exteriors, here are some additional key features facility owners and business operators should know.  These are just some of the key issues business owners should consider when making upgrades to the exterior of a facility or working to protect their business from vexatious litigants.

This accessible route has specific requirements which mandate adherence.      

  • Blended transitions:
    • Detectable Warning – If an accessible route crosses or adjoins a vehicular way, and the walking surface is not separated from the vehicular way by curbs, railings, or other elements, a continuous 36” deep band of detectable warning surface is required.   Detectable warning surface is also required within the walk-able surface of any curb ramp; full length of the ramp, excluding the flares.
  • Pedestrian Ramps: Where pedestrian ramps are required, the slope shall be 8.3% maximum with cross slope 2% maximum. The width of the ramp is 48” minimum.
    • Landing – Landing at the bottom of the ramp is required to be 72” long and as wide as the ramp if no change in direction; 72” long and 60” wide if change in direction.
    • Landing at the top of the ramp is required to be 60” x 60” minimum. All landings are required to have a cross slope of 2% maximum.
    • Intermediate landings (if required) are required to be 60” long and as wide as the ramp, if no change in direction; 72” long and 60” wide if change in direction.
  • Handrails – Handrails (1 ¼” – 1 ½” diameter) are required on pedestrian ramps if the ramp slope exceeds 1:20 (5%)). Handrails are required on both sides of the ramp, continuous the full length of the ramp; 34”-38” above ramp surface to the top of the handrail.  Handrails shall extend a minimum of 12” of level distance beyond the top and bottom of the ramp, parallel with the ground surface.  Guide rail protection is required where ‘drop offs’ occur, either a guide curb which is a minimum of 2” in height on each side of the ramp, or a wheel guide rail centered 3” plus or minus 1” on each side of the ramp.

Much of this information was generated from the Federal website outlining Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities (ADAAG) http://www.access-board.gov/adaag/html/adaag.htm#purpose.

* Please note that these posts and all discussions of these posts are for instructional purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. This blog is meant to convey general information only. It is not meant to impart specific legal advice concerning legal problems or issues to individuals or other business entities.*

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Based on recent request, here is the complete list of topics we’ve covered so far on our Accessibility Newsflashes.  Should you have any questions, feel free to contact me, Rebecca Hellwig, at our office by phone at 276-2790 or by email at rhellwig@larsandersen.com.
 
 
Ø  Accessible Parking Spaces – Keeping them Compliant!
 
Ø  Common Misconceptions
 
Ø  Establishing your Facility is Compliant with the ADA before Construction’s Conclusion!
 
Ø  Getting Proactive!
 
Ø  Good records can be rewarding when it comes to ADA Litigation
 
Ø  The Importance of Including ADA Issues In your Operations Manual
 
Ø  The Importance of Qualifications
 
Ø  Parking Lot Requirements
Ø  Restroom Signage Requirements
 
Ø  Staying up to Date on ADA Guidelines
 
Ø  Some Commonly Non-Compliant Accessibility Issues Facility Owners Should Know!
 
Ø  Who is Responsible?
 
 * Please note that these posts and all discussions of these posts are for instructional purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. This blog is meant to convey general information only. It is not meant to impart specific legal advice concerning legal problems or issues to individuals or other business entities.*
 
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New ADA related lawsuits are coming to the attention of the Lars Andersen & Associates staff every day.  In order to assist the community with this matter in a more large scale fashion, members of our team will be several presentations on December 1st at multiple venues.

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For Clovis residents and business owners, at 7:30 at the Veteran’s Memorial Building, Daniel Zoldak will be presenting along with the City of Clovis Attorney and one of their Chief Building Officials.  Those interested in attending this free workshop can contact Carlos Martinez at the City of Clovis Economic Development Department by phone at (559) 324-2092.

For Madera City and County Residents and Business owners, a free seminar which will also cover the subject of ADA compliance will be held on December 1st  at the County Supervisors Chambers at 200 West 4th Street from 10:00 a.m. to about 11:30 a.m.

For Architects, a luncheon will be put on by the AIA for continuing education credits mandated by Senate Bill 1608.  The precise cost, location and time are still being determined.

Lars Andersen & Associates, Inc. is committed to continuing to assist our community in bringing their facilities up to compliance.  If you have any questions pertaining to accessibility, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to help!

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The Fresno Redevelopment Association (RDA) Storefront Improvement Project is a program by which the Agency matches businesses dollar–for–dollar (up to a maximum determined by the Agency) for qualified storefront improvements in redevelopment project areas.  However, as vexatious litigants continue to target the Valley, the program has been expanded in order to also address the issue of accessibility.

As part of this program, the Fresno RDA has incorporated a walkthrough with Dan Zoldak of our Firm in order to identify key violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  Dan will be working with the RDA and the business owner to assist in ensuring that the facility is moving towards compliance.

Our firm is excited to be partnering with the Fresno RDA on this great project!  If you are interested in learning more about the it, please visit their website at http://www.fresnorda.com/index.php?rda=initiatives&n=storefront.  If you would like more information on taking advantage of this great project, or have questions about the program, please call David Martin at the Redevelopment Agency at 621-7630.

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Is your business in the City of Clovis? Would you like to have a walk through of your facility with a Certified Access Specialist (CASp) to identify the blatant violations which may leave you open to the vexatious litigants currently targeting the Central Valley with lawsuits based on accessibility?

The City of Clovis has been addressing the issue of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Lawsuits in a proactive manner, offering a variety of programs to help the average Clovis business.  Through informative seminars, no interest loans for ADA upgrades, and educational walk-through, Clovis businesses are being given a great opportunity to ensure their facilities are accessible to potential patrons and protect themselves from ADA related lawsuits.

The City of Clovis Economic Development Department is currently working with Lars Andersen & Associates, Inc. to offer low cost walk-through’s of businesses with our firm’s Vice President, Daniel Zoldak, P.E., CASp, LEED AP.

This is a great way to begin addressing accessibility in a cost efficient manner.  Be sure to take advantage of this great opportunity if you are eligible!

While conducting seminars and inspections throughout the Central Valley regarding the importance of addressing Accessibility in facilities which are open to the public, we have noted that there are misconceptions held by many currently dealing with the ADA and CBC regulations.  Please see some of the most common misconceptions below

  • The facility was built prior to ADA coming into effect, so the regulations do not apply.
    • All places of general public accommodation are obligated by the ADA’s “readily achievable barrier removal” requirement to be accessible.
  • If you have never made renovations to the facility or property, you do not have to make any ADA Modifications.
    • Requirements may vary according to the permits which are pulled and the resources of the facility owner. It is the owner or operators obligation to promote accessibility in their facility to all who wish to have it. 
  • The landlord is responsible for ensuring the property is compliant with ADA & CBC Regulations.
    • There is often overlap regarding accountability, meaning the landlord is not necessarily liable.  This subject should be covered in the course of initial discussions regarding the lease agreement and requires consistent communication between landlord and tenant as modifications are made to the facility.
  • All new Buildings adhere to the ADA & CBC regulations regarding Accessibility.
    • While architectural plans for new facilities are often correct, the lack of proper oversight in the implementation can lead to a lack of compliance. 
  • Insurance is available to cover the costs in the event a lawsuit is brought.
    • While some Insurance companies will assist in the event of a lawsuit, this is the exception not the rule. 
  • It is expensive to fix non-compliant items at a given facility.
    • While some fixes for accessibility require a significant amount of time, money and effort to fix, not all do.  Requirements such as proper signage, appropriate mat anchoring and accessible door handles are relatively inexpensive.   
  • Facilities that do not often accommodate the public are not under any obligation to address accessibility.
    • If anyone from the general public is allowed into the facility, it must be accessible to all.   This applies to bathrooms as well as offices.   

 

* Please note that these posts and all discussions of these posts are for instructional purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. This blog is meant to convey general information only. It is not meant to impart specific legal advice concerning legal problems or issues to individuals or other business entities.*

http://larsandersen.com/

Lars Andersen & Associates, Inc. proud to be one of the few Civil Engineering and Design Firms in California’s Central Valley with a Certified Access Specialists (CASp) on staff.  With our almost 70 years of experience in the field and our CASp Program, we are able to assist our clients in ensuring they are in compliance regarding issues related to the important issue of adherence to ADA and accessibility laws in the State of California.

Our experience has given us an unparalleled understanding of accessibility issues and the lawsuits which result from a lack of compliance with ADA Regulations, subjects which are being presented to owners of both public & private facilities with growing consistency. In the course of our work, more specifically, the conducting of CASp Inspection Reports by our CASp Team Leader, Dan Zoldak, we have come across several problems that are almost universal in their existence on various types of properties.  As a client of Lars Andersen, we would like to share some of this information with you in the hopes that you will benefit from it on future projects.

One issue have found to be consistently out of compliance has to do with Accessible Parking Stalls.  During inspections, we are finding quite often that while many accessible parking spaces (i.e. stalls/ unloading areas) are being designed to State of California Accessibility Codes with 2% maximum slope, standard construction practices for asphalt installation does not allow for tight enough tolerances and often these areas are exceeding code requirements.

In order to protect facility operators against legality in this issue, Lars Andersen & Associates, Inc. recommends constructing accessible parking areas in concrete, rather than asphalt, with forms which will allow the Contractor to check the slopes prior to the placement of the concrete. Using a concrete section at the accessible parking areas will enable the Contractor to construct to better tolerances, and therefore should alleviate any slope issue and allow the parking stall to be in compliance.

Another recommendation would be to require your Civil Engineer to design these areas to 1.5% maximum slope, and the extra 0.5% will allow the Contractor some tolerance in the construction, and will allow for some error in the field.

Utilizing these tips on the construction of the accessible parking stall on your next project will be a helpful step in ensuring that your facility is in compliance with ADA regulations.  Remember, being in compliance is the best way to protect you and your business against meritless lawsuits and this is a great first step in promoting access for all!

For additional information on Certified Accessibility Inspections or information on other Accessibility Issues, please contact Lars Andersen & Associates, Inc. by phone at 559-276-2790.

* Please note that these posts and all discussions of these posts are for instructional purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. This blog is meant to convey general information only. It is not meant to impart specific legal advice concerning legal problems or issues to individuals or other business entities.*

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Businesses owners, landlords, municipalities and developers should be aware that many of the possible ADA and CBC violations can be amended before the completion of a given project or facility, saving time and headaches down the road. 

 

Such a step is easy to take.  It is as simple as having your engineer or architect include in the construction specifications a clause which requires the contractor to hire a licensed Certified Access Specialist, or CASp, to do a punch-walk before the contractor signs off on the project.  We suggest that you include in your contract that the Contractor shall provide a letter from a CASp indicating that all constructed improvements have been inspected, and comply with Federal, State and Local guidelines for Accessibility, prior to the acceptance by the land owner or tenant, which thereby releases the contractor.

 

It is important to note that most errors related to Accessibility are correct on the architectural or engineering plans. However, issues often arise in the implementation of the plans during construction. Something as small as measuring from the sheet rock instead of the finish material can mean that particular area of your facility is a 1/2 inch out of compliance, and that is enough to warrant damages for affected parties for not providing required clearances.  In June of 2009, In Munson v. Del Taco, Inc., the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled that plaintiffs do not have to prove “intentional discrimination” to recover the $4,000 minimum statutory damages provided per occurrence under California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act.   This means that even an accidental miss-measurement in your facility can lead to massive fines.

 

Utilizing these tips on the construction of your next project will be a helpful step in ensuring that your facility is in compliance with ADA regulations.  By ascertaining that your contractor does a final punch-walk with a CASp, you are protecting yourself from significant liability regarding access later. Covering the issue at a time when fixes are easy to make will also save both time and money. 

 

Be sure to discuss this subject with your contractor on your next project. Remember, being in compliance is the best way to protect you and your business against meritless lawsuits and this is a great first step in promoting access for all!

 

* Please note that these posts and all discussions of these posts are for instructional purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. This blog is meant to convey general information only. It is not meant to impart specific legal advice concerning legal problems or issues to individuals or other business entities.*



As one of the few firms in the Central Valley which currently has a Certified Access Specialist on our team who is able to assist with ADA and CBC related issues, our firm has seen a definite increase in ADA lawsuits in the Fresno area.  Recently, we have been contacted by a variety of businesses, individuals and companies which are engaged in access related lawsuits, due to the fact that we are able to assist our clients with Expert Witness and Inspection Services.  Should your business become engaged in such a lawsuit, please be aware that the firm of Lars Andersen & Associates, Inc. has almost 70 years of Development experience and is readily available to assist you.

However, in an effort to keep our clients informed, we would like you to be aware that there are a few simple and relatively inexpensive steps a facility owner or operator can take which may help in reducing the likelihood they will see a lawsuit brought against their facility.  We are finding that in many of our inspections something as simple to fix as interior or exterior signage is out of compliance.  Additionally, mirror height seems to be regularly out of compliance by being ½ inch too tall.  Another common problem we have found routinely, is that the pipes under the lavatories and sinks are not adequately wrapped, thereby constituting another violation.

While some may perceive these items as being small and relatively immaterial, in addition to being of genuine concern to the disabled, they can serve as a signal to individuals that your facility is not compliant with current ADA & CBC codes and may be an easy target for quick money.  Many of these issues are simple to avoid and easy to fix for many facility owners.  Being aware of the items which are out of compliance is often the first step towards addressing them.  By contacting a CASp before your business is targeted and getting an inspection, you will also be entitled to additional rights under Senate Bill 1608.  These benefits include a 90-day Stay of Lawsuits, an Early Evaluation Conference, and a window sign which will signify that you are not only taking the steps to ensure compliance, but additionally, will not be an easy target for a quick buck.  Therefore, we are recommending that facility owners take the time to have their facility inspected by a Certified Access Specialist and get a comprehensive review of the property BEFORE a lawsuit is brought. This step will often save facility owners and operators both time and money in the long run.

For additional information on Certified Accessibility Inspections or information on other Accessibility Issues, please contact Lars Andersen & Associates, Inc. by phone at 559-276-2790.

* Please note that these posts and all discussions of these posts are for instructional purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. This blog is meant to convey general information only. It is not meant to impart specific legal advice concerning legal problems or issues to individuals or other business entities.*

http://larsandersen.com/

Lars Andersen & Associates, Inc. is one of only a few Full Service Civil Engineering firms in California that currently has a Certified Access Specialist, or CASp, on staff. This position was created by Senate Bill 1608 and with this individual on staff, we are able to provide CASp Inspection Reports. A CASp Inspection Report provides sites that are not currently subject to ADA litigation some protection should ADA litigation be commenced in the future.

SB 1608 gives public agencies and businesses a method to guard against meritless ADA lawsuits, focusing on the real purpose of the ADA and construction accessibility laws; namely, to assure access for the disabled as opposed to being a windfall for lawyers who bring these suits.

A CASp Inspection Report provides facilities that are not currently subject to ADA Litigation a source of protection should ADA Litigation commence in the future. Lars Andersen is able to provide a CASp Inspection Report as part of a project’s Due Diligence which can be of great benefit to a client researching potential project sites prior to a financial commitment, the report will identify and list code violations which may result in cost exposure.

One of the greatest benefits of having a CASp Inspection Report prior to litigation is that should litigation ensue, it allows a business with a CASp Inspection Report the opportunity to make an immediate request for a Court Stay and Early Evaluation Conference, thereby eliminating the need to incur wasteful attorneys’ fees.

In order for a business to avail itself of the litigation protections set forth in Senate Bill 1608, a business must have the CASp Inspection Report. The relevant law provides: “[I]f the construction-related accessibility claim pertains to a site that has been inspected by a Certified Access Specialist…and you have an inspection report for that site, you may make an immediate request for a court stay and early evaluation conference….” California Civil Code Section 55.54(a) (1). In fact, every CASp who conducts a CASp Inspection will provide a building owner or tenant with a notice making the building owner/tenant aware of the importance of the CASp Inspection Report.

Our Firm fully comprehends the issues that may be in need of correction to adhere to ADA Compliance and our CASp Inspection Report will address in detail required repairs, replacements, etc., that will to be done to each item in order for that particular item to become ADA Compliant. For example, if the mirror in the women’s bathroom needed to be lowered by 2 inches, we would have an actual photo of that non-compliant item with a highlight showing the dimension and direction for the relocation of a mirror. Likewise, if the pressure of the door for opening needs to be decreased to meet compliance, we would identify replacement components to meet this requirement.

Be assured that Lars Andersen & Associates, Inc. has the expertise to assist with your ADA concerns. Our experienced and certified team is capable of both identifying issues and addressing the means for correction.

Our background of 70 years of Civil Engineering experience allows us to offer this service with an unparalleled understanding of the subject. This feature is available in conjunction with our other services, or can be offered independently. Let us assist you in making your facilities ADA Compliant to promote access and avoid meritless lawsuits.

* Please note that these posts and all discussions of these posts are for instructional purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. This blog is meant to convey general information only. It is not meant to impart specific legal advice concerning legal problems or issues to individuals or other business entities.*

http://larsandersen.com/

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