Laredo WISHES there was grandfather clause for ADA compliance

You dont have to be in a wheelchair to have problems with the sidewalks of downtown

As I explained in my request to the council woman and I stated in a local town hall meeting, ADA compliance is a necessity in the downtown areas. Of course, it would be cheaper to leave things as they are but… that is just not the law and that is just not fair to the numerous senior citizens, people with disabilities or others with mobility problems.

Because I often hear, “that part of Laredo is so old that the Americans with Disabilities Act will grandfather clause it.” No matter how old it does not apply, as the city leaders found out a few years ago when an advocacy group sued and won to make the city of Laredo offices accessible. In Ms. Liendo’s letter, I did include the link to The ADA and City Governments: Common Problems

Issue: “Grandfather” Clause or Small Entity Exemption

Common Problem:

City governments may believe that their existing programs and facilities are protected by a “grandfather” clause from having to comply with the requirements of Title II of the ADA. Small municipalities may also believe that are exempt from complying with Title II because of their size.


Because city governments wrongly believe that a “grandfather” clause or a small entity exemption shields them from complying with Title II of the ADA, they fail to take steps to provide program access or to make modifications to policies, practices, and procedures that are required by law. People with disabilities are unable to gain access to city facilities, programs, services, or activities because of a public entity’s reliance on these common misconceptions.


There is no “grandfather” clause in the ADA. However, the law is flexible. City governments must comply with Title II of the ADA, and must provide program access for people with disabilities to the whole range of city services and programs. In providing program access city governments are not required to take any action that would result in a fundamental alteration to the nature of the service, program, or activity in question or that would result in undue financial and administrative burdens. This determination can only be made by the head of the public entity or a designee and must be accompanied by a written statement of the reasons for reaching that conclusion. The determination that undue burden would result must be based on all resources available for use in a program. If an action would result in such an alteration or such burdens, a city government must take any other action that it can to ensure that people with disabilities receive the benefits and services of the program or activity. 28 C.F.R. § 35.150(a)(3).

Similarly, there is no exemption from Title II requirements for small municipalities. While public entities that have less than 50 employees are not required to comply with limited sections of the Department of Justice’s regulations, such as maintaining self- evaluations on file for three years and designating a grievance procedure for ADA complaints, no general exemption applies. All public entities, regardless of size, must comply with Title II’s requirements. 28 C.F.R. § 35.104.

I was ADA sidewalks are coming but in different phases. I hope to soon request a copy of the city’s Capital Improvement plan to see what sidewalks will soon be made accessible. As a matter of fact, I think it is probably online – have to check it out. For now, people downtown beware of cracked sidewalks, no sidewalks, no ramps and/or poles blocking your way!


About Que Fregados

Que Fregados is a quirky look at little things that strike us funny in Laredo and the unique Latino culture. Suggestions and comments are welcome. You can also email to
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4 Responses to Laredo WISHES there was grandfather clause for ADA compliance

  1. rick78 says:

    ADA is not a priority in this city ,but WBCA is .

  2. que fregados says:

    Tru dat! I am about to post part of the capital improvement plan. It shows that some money was set aside for walkway improvements, very little but its a start. I was not kidding that I wrote to my councilwoman, sent a letter to the editor, brought it up at a town hall meeting, talked with community development, visited with city engineers when they came to inspect what I was talking about and of course have posted evidence here.

    I still need to talk to the advocacy group that had sued the city of Laredo to see what the city was required to do. Might be time for some follow-up. And in the meantime, enjoy a few (very few) WBCA events.

  3. Pingback: ADA is 20! Do our city leaders know? « Que Fregados

  4. Pingback: Corpus Christi wants to be like Laredo?? | Que Fregados

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