March 28, 2001
Deputy City Attorney
City of Santa Monica
City Attorney's Office
1685 Main Street, Room 310
P.O. Box 2200
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2200
Re: DJ 202-12C-179
Gayle v. Ampco System Parking, Inc., et al.
Dear Ms. Greenstein:
This letter is in response to your letter of January 9, 2001, as well as the blueprints and photographs of parking structures that were submitted to the Department of Justice for review. The City of Santa Monica, which owns parking facilities in and around Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade, was notified in November, 2000, that the Department had received a complaint alleging that the parking facilities around the Promenade are not accessible to persons with disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 ("ADA"). The complaint upon which our investigation is based alleges that the city-owned parking structures around Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade do not have any van accessible parking spaces or accessible ticket dispensers or cashiers.
Title II of the ADA requires that each service, program, or activity conducted by a public entity, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. See 28 C.F.R. ï½§35.149 and ï½§35.150. Although not every existing facility need be made accessible, the service, program, or activity must be accessible unless the proposed action would fundamentally alter the service, program, or activity or would result in undue financial and administrative burdens. See 28 C.F.R. ï½§35.150. In addition, accessible features must be maintained so they are readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. See 28 C.F.R. ï½§35.133. Accessible routes may not be obstructed. See Appendix A to 28 C.F.R. ï½§35.133.
In addition, Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public accommodations and requires entities that own, lease, or operate places of public accommodation to design, construct, and alter them in compliance with the Standards for Accessible Design set forth in Appendix A to 28 C.F.R. Part 36. See 28 C.F.R. ï½§36.101.
The Department understands that the City contracts with APCOA/Standard Parking to operate parking structures one through six on Fourth and Second Streets around Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade. APCOA/Standard Parking must ensure that the structures comply with Title III and the City is obligated to ensure that the structures are operated in a manner that complies with the City's Title II obligations.
It is the responsibility of the Attorney General, and of this Division in particular, to enforce the provisions of Title II and Title III of the ADA. Where an entity is found to be in violation of Title II or Title III of the ADA, it is the responsibility of the Attorney General to take appropriate action to eliminate that violation, including the presentation of the matter to the appropriate court for civil proceedings. However, in the interests of resolving the complaint expeditiously and without resort to litigation, we are seeking your continued cooperation in addressing the following concerns.
As acknowledged in your letter, in November 2000, Department staff inspected the six parking structures around the Third Street Promenade. All six structures, as currently operated, use a single entryway for both entry and egress that provides insufficient vertical clearance for van accessibility in violation of the ADA. See Appendix A to 28 C.F.R. Part 36 ("Standards for Accessible Design"), ï½§ï½§ 4.1.2(5)(a) and (b). Our inspection also identified the following ADA violations:
- On the upper levels of structures one through six, the accessible parking spaces do not have access aisles that are five feet wide and do not have accessible routes to the elevators. For example, in parking structure five, the accessible parking space near the West elevator has a built-up curb ramp that is too steep for people who use wheelchairs and that projects into the parking space. This curb ramp also creates an access aisle that is not level. See Standards for Accessible Design, ï½§ï½§ 4.3.7; 4.3.8; 4.7.2; 4.7.8; 4.6.6. Similarly, the accessible parking space near the east elevator does not have an access aisle that is five feet wide and has a change in level between the access aisle and the sidewalk that is greater than 1/4". See Standards for Accessible Design, ï½§ï½§ 4.6.3 and Figure 9; 4.3.8; 4.5.2.
- In structure six, the walkway from the east elevator to Second Street is less than 36" wide as it passes the corner of the elevator structure and there is no curb ramp where the walkway meets the sidewalk. See Standards for Accessible Design, ï½§ï½§ 4.3.3; 4.3.8; 4.5.2; 4.7.
- The men's and women's toilet rooms in structures one through six are not accessible to people using wheelchairs, visually impaired individuals, and other individuals with disabilities:
- The routes to the toilet rooms from the accessible parking spaces, the elevators, and the street/alley are not accessible. For example, in structures two, three, four, and six, the ramps to the toilet rooms from the alley and first level of parking are too steep. See Standards for Accessible Design, ï½§ 4.8.2. In structures one through six, the ramps to the restrooms do not provide handrails on both sides of the ramp and/or are placed too high. See Standards for Accessible Design, ï½§ 4.8.5. In structure three, the ramp from the alley to the toilet rooms is less than 36" wide. See Standards for Accessible Design, ï½§ 4.8.3.
- The self-closing faucets do not stay open for at least ten seconds. See Standards for Accessible Design, ï½§ 4.19.5.
- The toilet paper dispensers do not permit continuous paper flow and are mounted too far away from the rear wall. See Standards for Accessible Design, ï½§ï½§ 4.16.6; 4.17.3; Figure 30(d).
- The hand dryers protrude more than four inches into the circulation path. Appropriate cane detectible barriers to warn blind or visually impaired persons may be installed. See Standards for Accessible Design, ï½§ 4.4.1.
- In the men's toilet rooms, the urinal and its flush are mounted too high. See Standards for Accessible Design, ï½§ï½§ 4.18.2 and 4.18.4.
- In some of the designated accessible toilet stalls, the rear grab bar is missing and/or the far end of the side grab bar is not at least 52" from the rear wall. See Standards for Accessible Design, ï½§ï½§ 4.17.6; 4.17.3; Figure 30(d).
- All signs designating the toilet rooms do not have raised characters accompanied with Grade 2 Braille non-glare finish, and are mounted too high. See Standards for Accessible Design, ï½§ï½§ 4.30.1; 4.30.4; 4.30.5; 4.30.6.
One of our primary concerns continues to be the lack of any explanation as to why structures one through six are currently operated using only the primary entryway that provides insufficient clearance for van accessibility. Our inspection of the structures identified an alternative point of entry ("second entryway") into each of the six parking structures (specifically, the entryway along the "east aisle" in structures two, four, and six and the "west aisle" in structures one, three, and five). Near these second entryways is a section of parking spaces reserved for accessible parking. These second entryways and the accessible parking spaces near them have sufficient vertical clearance for several van accessible parking spaces. Although these areas seem to have been open to the public previously, they are now closed off to the public by gates, chains, and other barriers, and apparently are currently used by police and public works vehicles, and for trash.
In one of our telephone conversations regarding the second entryways, you mentioned a traffic study that was evaluating the traffic flow pattern of downtown Santa Monica. If the City's position is that opening the second entryway in structures one through six to provide van accessible parking is an undue financial or administrative burden, the head of the public entity or his or her designee must make such a determination and submit a written statement of the reasons for reaching that conclusion. See 28 C.F.R. ï½§35.150(a)(3).
Individuals with disabilities must be afforded services that are equal to and as effective as those afforded to individuals without disabilities. See 28 C.F.R. ï½§35.130(b)(1)(ii) and (iii). Integration is fundamental to the purposes of the ADA. See Appendix A to 28 C.F.R. ï½§35.130. A public entity may not provide different or separate services for individuals with disabilities or otherwise limit the enjoyment of any right, privilege, advantage, or opportunity enjoyed by others receiving the service. See 28 C.F.R. ï½§35.130(b)(1)(iv) and (vii).
In this case, you sent to us for review blueprints and photographs of six additional city-owned or operated parking structures in downtown Santa Monica, including: structures seven and eight, the Ken Edwards Center, the Wilshire House, the Main Library, and the Menorah Housing Project. However, none of these parking structures is comparable to the public parking provided for individuals without disabilities for the Third Street Promenade. (1) As stated in your letter, structures seven and eight provide parking for Santa Monica Place, a shopping mall immediately south of the Promenade. It is our understanding that the Wilshire House provides subsidized housing for the elderly and mobility impaired and that the Ken Edwards Center functions as a community center, has tenants, holds meetings and community forums, and has very limited hours. It is inappropriate to relegate individuals with disabilities to park at the library, a public housing project, a senior housing complex, a community center, or a completely separate shopping mall, in order to access the Third Street Promenade when individuals without disabilities can choose to park in structures one through six which surround the Promenade in a variety of locations.
In an effort to settle this matter without resort to litigation, the Department recommends that the City voluntarily agree to provide van accessible parking for the Third Street Promenade by opening to the public the second entryways in structures one through six, correcting the other aforementioned ADA violations, and installing the requisite signage to direct persons to van accessible parking spaces and accessible restrooms in compliance with the Standards for Accessible Design, ï½§ï½§ 4.1.2(7); 4.30; and 4.6.4. Please forward your written response no later than April 27, 2001. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me at (202) 353-2288. Thank you for your cooperation.
Disability Rights Section
1. In addition, the blueprints and photographs provided to us are incomplete and do not have sufficient enough information for us to determine whether they have van accessible parking. The blueprints for structure eight do not indicate where the parking spaces are located and we were not provided the blueprints for the first level of parking for structure seven.>