California ADA requirements can be confusing. This is because California supplements the ADA with its own set of rules, as defined in the 2010 version of its state building code. While this topic is impossible to cover in depth in this forum, we’ve prepared answers to many of the frequently asked questions about the subject.
Q: My building was completed before the ADA went into effect in 1992. There are parts of it that do not comply with current standards. Should I modify it to meet the strictures of the ADA and the California Building Code (CBC)?
A: Possibly, but a definitive answer to your question is impossible without an on-site inspection by someone thoroughly versed in California ADA requirements. The areas of your building that are non-compliant may be eligible for a waiver if correcting them would present an undue burden on you. Again, however, your situation requires an in-person visit to resolve.
Q: I want to remodel my building, but I’m concerned about ensuring its compliance with the law. What do the ADA and CBC says about making remodeled buildings accessible?
A: If the project will add $130,000.00 or more to the building’s value, then you must fully comply with regulations regarding the building’s entryway, the travel path to the remodeled area, and any restrooms within the remodeled area.
If the added value is under $130,000.00, then you will need to invest 20% of the value’s amount in accessibility upgrades. For example, assume that the remodeling project will add $50,000.00 in value to your property. In that case, you must spend $10,000.00, or 20% of the added value, upgrading the property.
Q: How should I spend the 20% of the added value?
A: The upgrades should be performed in the following order of priority:
- Making entrances accessible.
- Making the route to the remodeled area accessible.
- Making at least one restroom for each gender in the remodeled area accessible.
- Supplying accessible telephones.
- Supplying accessible drinking fountains.
- Supplying accessible storage, parking, and alarms (if applicable to the location).
Q: What are the consequences for failing to comply with the ADA and CBC?
A: Failure to comply with the rules of both acts will expose your firm to the risk of catastrophically expensive litigation. It will also put you in violation of California’s Unruh Civil Rights Act, which assigns a minimum penalty of $4,000.00 for each violation of the ADA and/or CBC. We should mention at this point that many lawyers in California make a habit of bringing litigation against non-compliant businesses. One attorney in Sacramento has done so over 1,000 times, achieving settlements in multiple thousands of dollars.
Q: My company received a notice from a lawyer’s office stating that we are not in compliance. In the letter, the attorney demands several thousands dollars from my firm as a result. Should I take this demand seriously?
A: Yes, you should take it seriously. However, that doesn’t mean you ought to simply pay the money. Along with the letter, you should have received a notice advising your business that it isn’t required to pay anything, unless and until it’s found liable by a court of law. We advise you to consult an attorney familiar with ADA/CBC regulations to evaluate your options.
Q: How can I protect my company from ADA/CBC lawsuits?
A: your single best course of action is to have your property inspected by ADA consultants, like the experts at Burnham Nationwide. We’ll be happy to discuss your situation with you and check your location over thoroughly. We’ll advise you on what, if anything, you need to do to avoid legal and financial penalties relating to ADA/CBC non-compliance. We invite you to contact us today to find out more.