Working to Streamline Accessibility Laws

in: Accessibility / 3 Comments

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Last week, the AIACC testified before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in support of SB 1186 (Steinberg/Dutton). SB 1186 seeks to promote compliance with the state’s disability access laws without increasing unwarranted litigation. The bill easily passed and now rests in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

The language contained in the current version of the bill focuses primarily on how an attorney is to provide a written advisory (demand letter) to a building owner. However, the SB 1186 working group (of which the AIACC is part) established by Senators Steinberg and Dutton continues to seek legislative proposals to provide legal relief to those affected by the issues surrounding the Federal ADA, the California Building Code (California Code of Regulations, Title 24) and California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act—all without compromising access compliance or civil rights.

For architects, some of the most significant aspects of the effort are the proposals being generated by the working group. These include the Division of the State Architect’s (DSA) efforts to align the ADA with the access provisions of Title-24 and the improvement of the Certified Access Specialist Program (CASp). Also to be considered is the inclusion of language that addresses issues such as when an access code violation can be considered a technical violation (think handicap parking signage mounted three inches off-center of the parking stall), versus a true access violation (a barrier to access, e.g., a 24” wide restroom door in a public accommodation).

Because the alignment of Title 24 and the ADA plays a key role, the working group is depending on the DSA to deliver on its ongoing efforts for preparing the update of California’s 2013 building code for accessibility. As you may be aware, since May, the DSA has held a series of Access Code Forums, seeking input and comments from accessibility stakeholders, interested parties, and the general public as part of its emergency rule-making efforts to align state and federal access regulations. One area of significant importance that has been included in this effort is construction tolerances (allowing for a specified dimensional range). Whether dimensional, or in the form of open-mindedness, tolerance will certainly play a key role in resolving this issue.


Kurt Cooknick, Assoc. AIA

Kurt T. Cooknick, Assoc. AIA, is the Director of Regulation and Practice. With experience in the profession and over 15 years as an advocate on behalf of the architectural profession in California, he is passionate about protecting and advancing the profession.

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  1. avatar

    I fail to see how passing SB1186 will benefit the public as a whole. ADA laws, rules, regulations, and statutes have been a part of CFR for many, many years. While builders, architects, and businesses have basically have been allowed to comply with these laws voluntarily; there still remains major barriers for Disabled Persons. There would be no need for litigation at all if the States were truly compliant and in line with Federal Law. In the past there has been voluntary compliance and federal funding to become compliant the States are woefully lackluster about enforcing ADA accessibility. Many times litigation is the only avenue available to educate and inform the public of the grave necessity of compliance, Many businessmen, while aware of the laws will only act and become compliant as a result of litigation. Curbing litigation will on encourage more ignorance of these laws. Passing this bill will not slow the tide of ADA litigation. On the contrary, it will encourage more litigation on a Federal level, in order for those most affected by these laws to seek remedy.

  2. avatar
    Dennis Thompson

    I am hoping for the day when CCAIA will lobby for a moratorium on new access regulations. The three-year cycle means we are continually being confronted with new regulations and the need for continuing education of designers, builders, officials, and lawyers. How about every six years?

  3. avatar
    paul bishop

    what statistics can the AIA provide that demonstrate what percentage of ADA lawsuits are “unwarranted” or “abusive”? can you even provide me 3 examples of lawsuits that are 100% unwarranted? can you provide me with the actual facts regarding the purported lawsuit claiming that a barrier existed because a parking sign at an accessible parking space was 3″ off center?

    and what exactly is DSA doing to “improve” the CASp program?

    i work on a lot of ADA lawsuits for both plaintiffs and defendants and i find the statements made in this article off-base to say the least.

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