tv [untitled] July 2, 2013 6:00am-6:31am PDT
issues, visibility access issues. we have been working closely with many of our partners year today to educate about these -- many of our partners year today to educate about these issues. also in terms of board guidance. i want to thank all of you for coming. many of you may have assistance. i know many merchants could not be here. please do it share this information with other merchants in the area. we have virginia from the office of small business. we have roger from the bar association. no carla johnson from the office of disability. -- we have carla johnson from the office of disability. i want to especially it
acknowledge my colleague to help us get the resources and brought legal expertise to the table. i do not want to take too much of your time. thank you for coming. >> thank you, supervisor chu. i want to express my admiration for a supervisor chu's commitment to you. so, from our office, what we heard, many small businesses were receiving lawsuits regarding it the ada. tonight we will hear about the legal requirements, what has been in place. any small businesses that nderst informed as far as their
obligations for the ada, there are the mechanisms to provide that information to you. so, we are tasked with providing the information. there have been about 300 small businesses that have received the lawsuits. knee individuals who use this mechanism and come up -- the individual to use this mechanism. while it is important to have ada access, but we want you to understand there are individuals out there taking a look at your vulnerability. we have a packet of information for you tonight. we have it in english and chinese. we have a quick summary of the laws. the ada, calif. building code,
the civil rights, and our experts here will elaborate. we also have a list of certified caps at work in san francisco for you. carla johnson with the mayor's office of disability has created a really good it died of out to interview your experts to make sure you are getting the best quality product for you. been next -- the money you pay for the inspection you can take as a tax deduction. any money that if you have taken can be applied as a tax deduction. this can be done on an annual
basis. next, the opportunity, and a fund -- opportunity loan fund, providing for small businesses to pay for the inspection or to make improvements needed. to do it before you receive the lawsuit. and lastly, we of the bar association and their resources. they're providing their legal service for you. this last thing i am going to share with you in terms of what we have seen in our office is that with the individuals, that does not necessarily mean an individual will follow up with a lawsuit. what we've seen in our office is
the individual's will send you a letter and say there were compile -- compliance issues. where people get in trouble is they ignore the letter. we need to make sure it that your pro-active and responsive. when a business receives a letter, they need to contact our office. the merchants of been very proactive -- have been very pro- active. the businesses that have received a letter and passed an inspection after receiving the letter have staved off a lawsuit. the cap inspection is a very
good risk management tool. often it is not as durable as you may think it to be. our office is there for you as our resources. we are able to provide our services, follow-up questions in english, spanish, cantonese, and mandarin. and then -- and then, roger, you will -- >> yes. i am an attorney in private practice. the laws in this area are strict
compliance laws, and they are very specific. the federal law since 1990 indicates issues from 1998. all businesses, such as a grocery store, a dentist's office, restaurants, a doctor's office, virtually anything that a member of the public comes into the -- comes into needs to be a barrier-free. we will go over what barriers are. every public accommodation needs to be wheelchair-accessible. there are also other other forf disability. most of the issues we are hearing about are wheelchair accessibility issues. there is a small group of private individuals who are
wheelchair-down that go around the city and they look at small businesses. and i dare say anybody in small restaurants have some accessibility issues. it is another attempt at making your building wheelchair accessible. i am not sure which of you may be merchants and which it may be landlords. the law applies to both. and that means you were 100% liable for any barriers to access and any damages that may be associated with those barriers. there are ways you can defend yourself.
with your landlord or at senate -- or a tenant, this can avoid a lot of problems later on. the inspections offer a limited attempt at bringing a civil action for damages. it does not affect the ability to bring damage claims under the symbol laws. however, most lawyers -- they will not pursue the case. so, oftentimes, it works it to stop the lawsuit before it starts if you do that inspection. they are not particularly expensive. so, it is something someone would want to do. you will get a tax credit.
if you need to make changes in the structure of your premises, there are also tax credits for that. most of these cases start with a letter. a demand letter. that is usually signed not by a lawyer, but by it up plaintive. the plaintiff may not be a professional plaintiff. that does not make any difference. the defense has been tried in court. is a civil rights statute. -- it is a civil rights statute. they can be a perfectly legitimate plaintiffs to bring a lawsuit, and there are a number of people who belong to
disability organizations that actually, that is what their livelihood is, bringing these lawsuits. the gentleman over here, who was also a lawyer knows of at least one case involving two lawsuits. they started all neighborhoods. the target places like san francisco because this is an old city with old buildings, virtually none of which comply. we only have new construction that would be billed to 1988 compliance standards, usually. whatever kind of business you have, the building part does not enforce ada compliance. you have your architect look at the ada if you are going to make
a major revision anyway. is very expensive to do that. the demand letter is a requirment for the state -- is a requirement for the state laws to be brought. for civil rights cases, you are expected to know the law and be in compliance. they do not make a demand under federal law saying they should ask you for damages. and the damages could be substantial. the damages are based on the number of barriers encountered by the person when they're going to inspect the premises. these people will come and visit your business barack, three, or four times. they will sit at the counter if
you have a counter. they will sit at a table. that are well aware of what the legal requirements are of the height of the table and the length of the legs, whether the bathroom is compliance, whether there is appropriate sign it. the first barrier is access to the premises itself. adding is? . -- adding steps. having a ramp that is too steep is an access issue. there are ways to deal with those. having a power door or something of that nature. of power door -- you have seen those with the wheelchair symbol on it. it will open the door. the person on the wheelchair
does not have to try to wrestle with the door to get in. it is much more immediate access if you of something like that. that is the first barrier to someone, if they are entering a business premises. the next issue is usually in bathrooms. a lot * -- a lot of times, but is difficult to comply with depending on the size of the establishment. to make a wheelchair-accessible bathroom, it takes a lot more space than a regular bathroom. so, it is a problem oftentimes with small businesses. especially if you have to do two of them. and it cost about $15,000 to