By Kristina Launey

Businesses in California have for years struggled to comply with both California’s Title 24 accessibility standards for buildings and the federal standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because those standards differed in many respects.  The differences became even more pronounced after the Department of Justice adopted the 2010 ADA Standards for accessible facilities.  Inconsistencies with respect to rules for spaces such as fitting rooms, accessible hotel rooms, and bathroom elements created many compliance challenges.

Finally, some clarity and relief.

The 2013 California Building Code (CBC) revises and brings in line with the ADA 2010 Standards elements ranging from parking spaces to handrails.  According to the CA Department of General Services, in revising the CBA, the Department of State Architect analyzed – with assistance of nationally-recognized accessibility experts – more than 2,500 items from the 2010 CBC and 2010 ADA Standards to determine which provisions provided greater accessibility.  Items studied included, for example, parking spaces, handrails, drinking fountains and signs, transportation facilities, housing and correctional facilities.  Like the new 2010 ADA Standards, the 2013 CBC also includes provisions for recreational facilities, including amusement rides, playgrounds, golf courses and fishing piers.

These new CA standards build upon the emergency regulations the CA Department of State Architect adopted last summer to resolve conflicts between the ADA 2010 Standards and CA requirements including toilet placement, toilet paper roll placement, tactile sign placement, and accessible drinking fountains.

While the 2013 CBC will become effective 180 days after its publication – which will likely be July 1, 2013 – the CA Legislature, in 2012’s SB 1186, specifically authorized compliance with the 2013 CBC’s standards for disabled accessibility for purposes of an alleged violation of a construction-related accessibility standard, immediately upon their publication.