Whether you're building a new commercial space from the ground up or purchasing a structure that's been around for decades, parking accessibility should be a top priority for your business or program.
Why Accessible Parking Matters
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) was signed into law in 1990 to ensure equal opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency for individuals with disabilities.
In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) revised rules that affect state and local governments, public accommodations, and commercial facilities.
The regulations require compliance with 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design, outlining minimum accessibility requirements for buildings and facilities.
What Your Parking Lot Needs to be ADA Compliant
ADA regulations require removing barriers from public buildings and areas, creating designated accessible parking spaces, installing entrance ramps, and making other architectural changes to enhance accessibility (Section 36.304), and requiring that one of every six parking spaces accommodate vans.
Generally speaking, fifty percent of your public entrances must be accessible, and a minimum number of accessible parking spots are required under these regulations, as well.
New Construction Projects
According to ADA guidelines, new construction projects must meet minimum standards with very few exceptions. Alterations are also subject to strict requirements, although they may be more affected by existing structural conditions.
Existing buildings and facilities which are not undergoing planned alterations are viewed a little differently. A store (or restaurant, bank, etc.) does not have to modify its parking lot to provide additional spaces until the lot undergoes a planned alteration (re-striping, re-surfacing, etc.) Any alterations made after March 15, 2012 must comply with the 2010 Standards, to the maximum extent feasible.
State and Local Agencies
State and local government agencies that offer programs, services, or activities in existing facilities need to ensure that people with disabilities can gain access and participate in these activities. Adding accessible parking is one step government agencies can take to ensure people with disabilities can participate.
Public accommodations (private businesses that are open to the general public, like retail stores, restaurants, banks, parking garages, and many others) must remove barriers when it is "readily achievable" to do so.
Readily achievable means "easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense."
Designating accessible parking is often readily achievable and is considered a top priority because it enables many people with disabilities to "get in the door."
Please note: State and local governments may have stricter requirements than those outlined in the ADA. See our guide to California Bay Area parking requirements for more information.
Providing Accessibility and Equity, Avoiding Lawsuits and Fines
Ensuring your parking lots are accessible per the Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines offers fair and equal access to your business or building. Not only is it the right thing to do for your customers and community, but it can also keep you out of hot water.
Failing to comply with ADA accessible parking can bring hefty fines. The maximum civil penalty for a first violation under title III is $75,000; for a subsequent offense, the maximum is $150,000.
What's more, your business could be facing an accessibility lawsuit if you're meeting the ADA requirements. Any person who believes your parking lot is inaccessible can bring forth an ADA lawsuit against you. They don't even have to be a customer or someone who has ever attempted to park in your lot!
JV Lucas Paving 'Paves the Way' for Bay Area Parking Lots
At JV Lucas Paving, we've served Bay Area residents, businesses, and local entities with paving projects for over 70 years. We take ADA compliance seriously and can help you get your parking spaces up-to-date so you can provide equitable access to your buildings and avoid costly lawsuits and fines. Request a free consultation from JV Lucas Paving today.