The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a national law that was put into effect to ensure that equal access be reasonably provided to all patrons regardless of mobility or other issues. Our merchants certainly embrace this effort, wishing to welcome everyone into their storefronts.
However, during the pandemic quick changes were made to many facilities, such as expanding outdoors, just so the business could survive. This has added conditions that may have left them vulnerable to violations.
We recognize the hardships facing our struggling businesses at this time, as well as the legal right of access for disabled persons. This page is intended to shed light on what it means to be compliant in the current situation, as well resources should you face a lawsuit.
On August 2, the Chamber of Commerce hosted a roundtable on ADA compliance, featuringRoger Miller, CASp inspectorDavid Basinger, City of Mountain View, Community Development DepartmentKen Van Vleck, AttorneyMartin Orlick, Attorney
Joint Venture Silicon Valley Webcast
On November 2, 2021, Joint Venture Silicon Valley presented a panel of expert speakers. View the recording here.
Guidance for Castro StrEATS program participants
While there is much focus on ADA compliance within structures, bathrooms and parking lots, the law applies equally to temporary dining areas that have been established by the Castro StrEATS program.
Have your outdoor space compliant with ADA guidelines is good business sense and ensures you can provide services to all customers.
Below are some tips and friendly reminders about temporary outdoor seating areas.
If you have less than 20 tables you need to provide at least one accessible table if so is readily achievable. If you have more than 20 tables, 5% should be accessible. For instances movable chairs can be removed so a wheel chair can use the table.
Table(s) should have a surface height maximum of 34 inches and minimum of 28 inches above the floor. Knee clearance height of at least 27 inches should be provided between the floor and underside of the table. There should be a depth of 19 inches under the table to provide leg and knee clearance. A minimum 30 inches between the legs of the table is required.
(Source: ADA Guide for Small Business: Fixed Seating and Tables)
Path of Travel
Walkways should be a minimum of 36 inches wide, ideally 48 inches wide to access tables.
(Sources: Doorways, Hallways and Entrances :: California Secretary of State
A tax credit for small businesses
- ≤ 30 employees or total revenues of $1 million or less
- up to $5,000 (half of eligible expenses up to $10,250, with no credit for the first $250)
A tax deduction for businesses
- Deduction of up to $15,000 per year for costs of removing barriers in facilities or vehicles
The California Capital Access Program (CalCAP) Americans with Disabilities Act
(CalCAP/ADA) Financing Program assists small businesses with financing the costs to alter or retrofit existing small business facilities to comply with the requirements of the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990
The Americans with Disabilities Act is not a building code, it is Federal Law. The State of California Building Codes are updated every three years. The State and locally amended California Building Code (CBC Chapters 10 and 11A/11B) are the requirements that each municipality is responsible for enforcing. And although it follows closely the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), it is not entirely the same document in terms of language and/or enforcement. As such, there are two types of lawsuits that occur related to accessibility and built conditions within the State: (1) lawsuits against owner/tenants for violations of the CBC; and (2) federal violations of accessibility against the owner/tenant per the ADA.
A federal lawsuit for violations of the ADA guidelines need to be investigated by the Department of Justice and determined to meet certain criteria – before a lawsuit can proceed. Lawsuits involving the CBC means you will need to correct the non-compliant conditions; and still pay the person filing the suit approximately $5,000.
Non-compliant conditions typically are in the form of parking, path of travel to the building, door handle heights, bathroom stalls, counter heights, etc. Unfortunately, older buildings are not exempt from complying with the ADA accessibility laws (“Grandfathered”) when modifications can be done readily achievable.
More information about ADA and California Building Code compliance can be found at
Additional ResourcesCertified Accessibility SpecialistsBassam Altwal at Cal Accessibility. www.calaccessibility.comRoger Miller, CASp inspector | firstname.lastname@example.orgSteven Schraibman, AIA CPE CASp | email@example.com | 858-481-4494Lawyers with experience handling local ADA lawsuits:Kathryn Curry | firstname.lastname@example.org | 650-237-
7236Joshua Jachimowicz | Josh@jachlawgroup.com | 408-550-1732Martin Orlick | MOrlick@jmbm.comMoji Saniefar | Msaniefar@sheppardmullin.com | 415-518-1266Richard Schramm | email@example.com | 408-796-7551Charles Stone | firstname.lastname@example.org | 650-678-6657Ken Van Vleck | email@example.com
ADA Checklist: https://adachecklist.org/checklist.html
CA Department of General Services: List of Certified Access Specialists
City of San Jose’s One-Pager: https://www.sanjoseca.gov/home/showdocument?id=25953
City of Pasadena ADA Resources: https://www.cityofpasadena.net/economicdevelopment/business-toolkit/business-accessibility/
Service Animals: https://operationfreedompaws.org/Media Coverage