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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Justice Department Signs Agreement with Santa Rosa, California, to Ensure Civic Access for People with Disabilities

The Justice Department today announced an agreement with Santa Rosa, Calif., to improve access to all aspects of civic life for persons with disabilities. The agreement was reached under Project Civic Access (PCA), the department’s wide-ranging initiative to ensure that cities, towns and counties throughout the country comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

"PCA is about more than just ADA compliance, it is about ensuring that individuals with disabilities can expect the same access to civic programs, services, and facilities as everyone else," said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez of the Civil Rights Division. "I commend city officials for making this commitment to provide equal access to city programs, activities and services for all its residents."

PCA was initiated to ensure that persons with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in civic life, a fundamental part of American society. As part of the PCA initiative, Justice Department investigators, attorneys and architects survey state and local government facilities, services and programs in communities across the country to identify the modifications needed for compliance with ADA requirements. The agreements are tailored to address the steps each community must take to improve access. This agreement marks the 175th under the PCA initiative and the 14th agreement reached this year.

"We appreciate the commitment to accessibility and ADA compliance made by each of the 175 cities, counties, and other government entities who have entered into a PCA agreement with the Justice Department," said Assistant Attorney General Perez. "We hope that all local governments throughout the country are committed to achieving full compliance with the ADA, particularly as we approach the 20th anniversary of this important civil rights law’s passage."

Under the agreement announced today, Santa Rosa will take several important steps to improve access for individuals with disabilities, such as:

  • Making physical modifications to its facilities so that parking, routes into the buildings, entrances, public telephones, restrooms, service counters and drinking fountains are accessible to people with disabilities;
  • Posting, publishing and distributing a notice to inform members of the public of the provisions of Title II and their applicability to the city’s programs, services and activities;
  • Officially recognizing California’s telephone relay service and training staff in using the relay service for telephone communications;
  • Developing a method for providing emergency management policies and procedures for persons with disabilities, including preparation, notification, response and clean up;
  • Developing a method for providing information for interested persons with disabilities concerning the existence and location of the city’s accessible services, activities and programs;
  • Installing signs at any inaccessible entrance to a facility directing users to an accessible entrance or to information about other accessible facilities; and
  • Implementing a plan to improve the accessibility of city sidewalks and provide for the installation of accessible curb cuts throughout the city.

Today’s settlement agreement was reached under Title II of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities by state and local governments. The agreement will remain in effect for five years or until the parties agree that all actions required by the agreement have been completed, whichever is later. The department will monitor compliance with the agreement until required actions have been completed.

Santa Rosa is just 55 miles north of San Francisco, where wine and farm country meet the redwoods and the ocean. Santa Rosa sits at the heart of Sonoma County. It is the county seat and has a local population of approximately 155,000 people. The city has much to offer by way of arts and culture, parks, trails and green spaces, making it a prime destination for tourist and wine enthusiasts. Santa Rosa was also home to Peanuts comic strip creator Charles Schulz and lists the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center among the attractions located in the city.

People interested in finding out more about the ADA, today’s agreement with Santa Rosa, the Project Civic Access initiative, or the ADA Best Practices Tool Kit for State and Local Governments can access the ADA Web page at http://www.ada.gov or call the toll-free ADA Information Line at (800) 514-0301 or (800) 514-0383 (TDD).

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