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
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!