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City Staffer Wrong on Disabled Parking, Attorney Says

Cites must provide disabled parking where regular parking is provided, the Ninth Circuit has ruled. (Action Alameda News)

Cites must provide disabled parking where regular parking is provided, the Ninth Circuit has ruled. (Action Alameda News)

A litigator in a key federal case regarding the provision by municipalities of street parking for disabled persons has strongly contradicted statements by the City of Alameda staffer leading the Central Avenue Complete Streets makeover.

Carol Gottstein, a disabled-persons activist and a disabled person herself has been pressing city officials to make sure that the Central Avenue project, which aims to improve access for pedestrians and bicycles, takes care to provide disabled-persons on-street parking.

Gottstein previously wrote to the Transportation Commission and to Gail Payne, the transportation co-ordinator for the Central Avenue project, “I am concerned that, on any route in any of the projects to be discussed [in the public meeting], where the parking lanes are reduced to seven feet, that the City of Alameda may be flirting with a future violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.”

She’s concerned that Central Avenue will turn out like Shore Line Drive, where narrowing of the street precluded implementation of disabled-persons parking spaces on Shore Line Drive proper.

Indeed, Payne confirmed to Action Alameda News, just before a community workshop last night regarding the Central Avenue project, that there are no disabled-persons parking spots on Shore Line Drive – they are all on side streets.

Providing parallel-parking disabled-persons spaces requires an 8′ clearance.

Responding to questions about requirements for disabled-persons parking spots, Payne further told Action Alameda News, “anywhere [in proposed plans for Central Avenue,] we could we tried to get 8′ wide clearance. Where’s there’s a 7′ wide clearance, we’ll have to dig into the landscaping to provide that disabled parking. It means we have to have a narrower landscape strip.

“The number of disabled parking spots on Central Ave really depends on the adjacent homeowner because not everyone wants a disabled parking spot in front of their home. We get requests and we take it on a case-by-case basis. We will provide disabled parking if it’s wanted. There’s sensitivity because some people get mad if we put it in front of their homes. So we just work on case by case basis – if people want it we provide it.

“It’s not a current requirement [to provide disabled parking wherever there’s regular parking.] It’s going through the courts right now. It’s all up in the air. If nobody asks for disabled parking in front of people’s homes, we don’t have to provide it.

“In commercial areas, we do try to disperse them out a little bit.”

Asked specifically about, for example, the commercial stretch of Central Avenue around Caroline Street, Payne said, “Sure, we’ll work with that area to provide something. We’re not at that level of detail yet. This planning effort is not there yet, we’re not in design yet. We can work with people. Honestly we have gotten zero requests for disabled parking.

“And we will look at commercial areas to provide them to disperse them out. We wait for requests in front of single family homes. We don’t just place them out there.”

However, Mark Potter, an attorney with Potter Handy, LLP, and counsel of record for Robin Fortyune, of Fortyune v. City of Lomita told Action Alameda News, “The City [of Alameda] is wrong. There is no authority, whether statutory or case law that provides that cities are exempt from providing accessible parking in residential areas or that their obligation only arises if asked.

“The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires cities to ensure that their programs and services are equally accessible and useable to persons with disabilities. Thus, if the city is providing on-street parking spaces in residential neighborhoods, it has a duty to provide the same to persons with disabilities. And the issue is not ‘up in the courts.’ The Ninth Circuit has ruled. It is binding precedence. The Supreme Court denied the City of Lomita’s request for appellate review. It is over. The fact that the Supreme Court denied the City of Lomita’s request for appellate review means that the Supreme Court did not have any problem with the Ninth Circuit’s ruling and so [no] need to review or disturb the ruling.

“Thus, the Ninth Circuit’s pronouncement is law in California. It ruled: ‘Pursuant to this regulation, public entities must “operate each service, program, or activity so that the service, program, or activity, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.” 28 C.F.R. § 35.150(a). Because the provision of public on-street parking is a “service, program, or activity,” 28 C.F.R. § 35.150(a) applies to it.” And, “at bottom, the regulation mandates program accessibility for all normal governmental functions, including the provision of on-street public parking.” Fortyune v. City of Lomita, 766 F.3d 1098, 1102-03 (9th Cir. 2014) cert. denied sub nom. City of Lomita, Cal. v. Fortyune, 135 S. Ct. 2888 (2015)'”

There is a public hearing on the Central Avenue project before the City of Alameda Transportation Commission scheduled for Wednesday, November 18th.

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