By Fay Lorraine Sueltz, AIA, CASI
Senate Bill 1186, passed in California September 2012, now requires the disclosure of the existence of a “CASp Report”, that is a Certified Accessibility Specialist program Report on any commercial properties coming up for new leases. Such a Report is defined and provided for by CA Senate Bill 1608 in 2009. A “CASp Report” is a legal form of an ADA Survey that documents issues that are out of compliance with the Federal 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act along with a timeline verified by the business and/or building the Owner’s agreement to remedy these issues.
Compliance issues for commercial projects are delineated in the California Building Code, Chapter 11B, available for purchase or in most Public Libraries. Federal Law concerning ADA compliance in commercial buildings may be found in the 2010 Standards for Public Accommodations and Commercial Facilities, Title III. Compliance must meet whichever is more stringent, code or law.
Compliance issues affect both Tenants and Owners. Having a CASp Report entitles the Owner to a 90 stay (maximum 180 days in some cases) in judgment in a lawsuit, and has the parties go to mediation as a first resort.
The main thrust or theme of these two new Senate Bills in California, SB 1608 & SB 1186, is to allow Owners the opportunity to mend their non-compliant ADA issues over time while receiving protection against frivolous and repetitive lawsuits which can become so expensive that many have shut their business doors, not having the funds available immediately to remedy all infractions of the ADA while paying for defense in litigation.
When hiring a Certified Accessibility Specialist (CAS), verify the contract line items; as not all Specialists are qualified nor should they alone input all information required in a CASp Report. The required information may be omitted from the contract, and the inquiry needs to be made by the Owner as to “Does this fulfill the requirements of SB 1608?”
For instance, if the Specialist is not a licensed estimator and may not be privy to an Owner’s budgeting, it would be potentially harmful to have a CAS arbitrarily input a “completion date” on non-compliant issues in the Report, especially as the Owner may not be able to meet the dates.
Most seasoned Specialists refer the Owner to qualified estimators, or disinterested contractors to work with the Owner’s budget management team to come up with dates to remedy non-compliant issues. These dates must be defendable in court, should the need arise.
- For further information on the updated Federal ADA Standards, visit http://www.ada.gov/regs2010/2010ADAStandards/2010ADAstandards.htm
- For explicit information on the California CASp program and Senate bills, visit http://www.dgs.ca.gov/dsa/Programs/programCert/casp.aspx
This article was originally published by Xpera Group which is now part of The Vertex Companies, LLC.