tv [untitled] August 2, 2012 1:00pm-1:30pm PDT
but to these business owners we are met with sprigs. who are we to be telling the potential business owners about a potential lawsuit? an area of a.b.a. that they don't understand how it relates to them. the laurels don't want to hear about fully achievable or equivalent. so it's hard to be proactive and positive when our government and casp inspections don't quite have a grip on what's going on. in our neighborhood we've had businesses obtain more than one casp inspections. the inspectors aren't sure what's viable in our city of san francisco and they're inability to look at the small things laughter -- rather than the
large and expensive repairs is frightening. readily asheeverbl differ greatly from the standard of the larger company. the. repairs not being allowed to be made puts the burden back on the landlord. the chasm inspection should be legally enforceable. a landlord and business owner ought to be able to show that certificate to work towards their efforts too becoming a.d.a. compliant. there need to be some industry standards. the central, state, and local entities know all about the requirements for compliance, as well as the changes in the law. however, the state has put a
targets on the backs of small and microbusinesses and landlords by creating and combrup dating the law without providing the necessary information to the small business levels and by allowing damages to be paid to these litigants. we all know we have to go to city hall for our fix tissues business name. but there isn't a brochure to warn us about a.d.a. appliance. that would be far better than implementation by litigation. there is the presurges that they already have the resources. a at a c. -- ccda committee i attended that point was confirmed. for san francisco small businesses this is not the case.
here the lack of coordination between the city and state can be seen. the stit executives have no interest. the ccda was delayed for more than a year, waiting for their executive position to be put on hold. if the state has these types of issues, why do the federal entities not see that the small microbusinesses also have their own unique set of challenges. why is it our right when issues are brought to ow -- our attention not met with consideration but because of the threat of the lawsuit? because it isn't good enough. i believe that is serial
litigants are doing drive-bies in their neighborhoods and looking for the easy targets. it's my opinion that these serial litigants should be invested for -- investigated for harassment. they should also be penalized to build their businesses based on loopholes in the law. if to use -- to offset the costs but not back into their own pockets. it would seem impossible for these plaintiffs to show there is sufficient likelihood that he or she will again be wrong in a similar way because of the quick response i have seen on the part of the business owner to do whatever they can at the immediate moment to rectify this situation. the threat of a lawsuit remains. to force a smaller business to
settle out of court for these infections is not fair because we cannot afford that. are financials can attest to this. we will gladly make the changes needed if the information was provided as opposed to having to defend the lawsuit or payoff a shady lawyer. the remedy to the barriers is lost. for those businesses that do not have intend to comply, they're the ones who were paying themselves perrot tax and we do not represent that class of business owner. the recent proposal to make a business owners and landlords -- informed of their rights and responsibilities leave out an important group, those already in business and this encompasses the majority of the small businesses throughout the city. what we need are modifications to the federal, state, and local laws as well as the unruh act. so the target is removed from
our backs. please stop this runaway train. i have a handout that has my basic suggestions from my presentation. thank you. supervisor mar: thank you. the next speaker. >> i am the attorney. i represent a lot of small businesses and consol -- supervisor mar: you are with the committee. >> thank you for the new legistla -- legislation that david chiu is introducing carry two years ago this was not on my radar. some of the businesses came to me with these letters that have been getting and there were saying, what is this? i did not know what this was and i am called by newspapers and i
go to committee meetings and this thing has grown. i appreciate anything the city can do to help these small businesses. i mean micro-businesses. one owner or to owners. they're not heavily funded. that is why this is an issue. most of the issues were addressed so i will not go over them and make little statements based on what was said. most of the issues are the damages portion in the state law where mr. gong was talking about it was $4,000 per visit. what we see-i only deal with one player and he filed in federal court so we do not get the 90- day protection that was talked about. he usually has three main plaintiffs. they did not live in the city, they live in nevada or somewhere and they have a driver and drive into the different neighborhoods and as they noticed it is easy
to target these businesses, because we have these slopes and this unique architecture and they are hard to access. the raps your talking about are not achievable in most of the situation because of the slopes. even with a temporary ramp, 1 foot per inch, you still did not have the proper grade. we would have ramps going out into the street which we cannot do. we can i get permanent ramps because either there is a sub- four or there is not enough room. we have curbside service where we put a bill and someone from the store will come and do the transaction, we are reduced to having to do that. the problem is as i said in the state law with the way that damages are abused by this attorney because he has -- there will come as a husband and wife and come four or five times. instead of $4,000 is $8,000, or
you get $32,000. quex have seen this before, a sign in the front saying where there is some impediment, a sign saying, let us know if you need, we will come out to you. >>is that typically a good defense? >> that is readily achievable. if you can i get a ramp or -- you can get a ramp or gain access to the store through a ramp because of the building code, the barrier is not readily achievable. if it costs $150,000 to do, you will not able to do it. something that is considered a readily achievable solution. in some instances, the slopes are too much. supervisor mar: if it is a $5,000 physical fix and you decided that the board -- the doorbell approach --
>> it is usually because you cannot get a ramp on in there. the building code will not allow for it or the slope would be too much for a temporary one. what i would like to focus on is the damages portion. there will come multiple times and the law provides for doubling or tripling of those damages. suddenly your at $96,000 or $100,000 and the state legislature was looking -- i do not think there were looking at a $4,000 penalty would multiplied to this effect. and so then you get a demand. there is a new legislation that is being proposed but it is not addressing the damages. it does assist in terms of the landlord working with the tenants to give them notification that they may not be in compliance and it gives a tenant a chance to work together to remove barriers prior to a lawsuit being filed. i think -- anyway, as i was
saying, this was not something i dealt with two years ago. it is something i deal with all the time. supervisor mar: if he could wrap up so we could get to public comment. >> i appreciate the efforts, i do not know that it will come at the city level. it breaks my heart to have worked with people who have been in businesses, worked hard for 35 years and have never been sued and all the sudden, i am -- we have 10 businesses in an eight-block radius that have been sued in the last 12 to 16 months. i appreciate the efforts you are making. supervisor mar: think you. the next speaker -- thank you. the next speaker from hamburger haven, also an attorney as well.
yvonne lee is here from the small business administration and also jane gong. >> good morning. he does not mention that we will do anything at the city level, this was something we would address at the state level, 1186 is not going to do anything in there. i just spoke with someone from dutton's office. the best we could hope for is a provision and lease agreement just as david chiu has recommended to inform and educate business owners that the property has not been casp inspected and to prevent demand letters from occurring which is not a san francisco problem, it is a southern and northern california problem. the reason we are all here is we have the same goal, we want to
improve disability accessibility to public accommodations and protect small business tenants. we have not made any progress. you have know about this issue for the last four years. david chiu ran on this when he was in the small business commission. we have not moved any steps toward trade we have this hearing year after year. -- he was excited and thought they would make some changes but four years later, we're still in the same position and we have not made any progress. we need to recognize there's limits to what the county can do. we have a lot of problems with the way the ada is implemented and the way the unruh act allows stacking damages. we can multiplied per visit. the only thing we can do as a city is to invest in the --
outreach. regina is the only person in charge of outreach and she has an office that has four people including herself. two people who are responsible for the counseling of small businesses when they receive these lawsuits. that is not enough and clearly, that means the city is not taking this seriously. they're setting rigid up for failure. she always -- the have not been successful in any of their attempts. regina has demonstrated this by mentioning in february they had 3000 letters mailed out and how many responses? 3. if you add that up, that is a pointer 1% success rate. we're not getting anywhere on that. -- a 0.01 success rate. we're not getting anywhere on that. and we have four people who
decided to take upon the 8.5% loan program. i am willing to be part of that, someone can come to me and i will give the funds. that is nothing -- it does not do anything. if you put a fund at 20%, you're not making any progress, we're not making any movement here. the last thing i heard is they had outreach planned but it is not citywide because the city is not taking this seriously enough to put in the resources. she has a grant but it is small and they will do a limited amount. at a certain point we will have to say we have a problem. california is the most serious state where this is occurring. 42% happen in california and san francisco is unique because of the dance -- a densely populated commercial district and the large amount of immigrant owners and small businesses that we are trying to protect.
protecting small businesses is not just about doing a 1.5% payroll tax exemption. this is a more important issue that we can address. how do we address that? we take what carla johnson said. the city makes accessibility a top priority because it is a civil right. before that, i heard eric mar mentioned that the selling of mom-and-pop locations, if that is not the intent of the civil- rights act. we cannot have it both ways. it is a civil rights act, the law treats it as a civil rights law. we cannot change the law. we're not changing anything at the state level. 1186 will be the continuance of 1608. so what are we going to do? my recommendations are simple. there are two things we can do. to invest in outreach to
neighborhood businesses, add three additional out which -- outreach w workers -- workers, have a business background and provide information so they can get the assistance they need. and we can also staff one or two members who can assist in the process of promoting casp. casp is a secret program. nobody knows about the inspectors. this is something we are becoming aware of. we implemented it in 2008 and county has not taken its role to push for the success. because the counties have not been involved, 1608 has been a disaster. the counties have to do the advertising on the ground education to say, this is the problem, this is the carrot. we have the stick, we have the
hammer, we of attendees -- we have attorneys are suing you. we can speak with the owners one-on-one and address the issue by saying we have casp inspectors, you can help prevent, it is not a cure, but at least to can do the best to prevent these lawsuits from happening. instead of being someone like hamburger heaven where we pretty much have a sign that welcomes these types of lawsuits and that is the same thing with bill's place and king of thai noodle, we are asking for a period where bidding to be said. if we have a law that encourages these types of lawsuits to occur. 22 years after the ada was implemented, we still have these problems and we have no progress, we will have more of these types of cases. the only way to address the issue is to say, as a city, we're going to take this seriously and treat this as the
law has stated. it is a civil rights law. we're going to invest in this and we're going to put the resources so that next year, regina does not come here and say i had 6000 pamphlets sent out and six people came into the office, they might have come in by accident. if we do not have the resources to fund the office of small business, we can do it through dbi. angus mccarthy is more than willing to work with you or anyone who is interested. he is the only person from the city who has come out and spoken to me without me going to them first. he asked me to come to speak at a dbi hearing. they are a department that raises its own funds, they may have resources to address this, we can put a line item into the budget for next year and that is something we can discuss but you will have to put the resources,
have outreach field workers, have staff that can address this issue and so we have the resources available and give assistance as needed so we do not have this situation to occur again and again. supervisor cohen: i have a question for virginia. doyou -- do you feel the city has set you up for failure? >> i do not the city has set up for failure. there could be -- there is definitely more resources that we need to apply for outreach. supervisor cohen: how many are in your pot -- in your department? >> there is five. we have counter hours monday through thursday 8-5. supervisor cohen: how many folks do you envision needing to
conduct the outreach? if you have five people -- >> with the passage of the current budget, if we have three people, but we have before us with the passage of the budget, we will have to people working in the neighborhoods and that will -- supervisor comments you made it a strong -- carmen chu made a strong requirement that is what she would like to see happen. we do have asian neighborhood design. i do not know what the breadth of the capability of what they will be able to accomplish. if i can say one more thing. what i have seen over the years, we did send out the mailing. because, especially for businesses that have been in business for a long time, and have customers who have
disabilities who come in and patronize their business, i think they need multiple hits. they need to multiple points of contact and repeated contact because as susan said, even as peer to peer going to talk to pare businesses, businesses do not quite understand, why do i need to pay attention to this? >> supervisor chcohen: we are talking about a policy that will be implemented tjrpigj -- through the city but it will be in some parts of the castro, the valley, parts of richmond, not once have i heard an example in the southeast neighborhood so i am curious. does that mean we do not have this types of problems or there is no outreach or we have not
been strategically targeted for these frivolous lawsuits? >> i have extended invitations to the merchants associations and continue to do so to do presentations on disability access and the lawsuits and did do a presentation at the bayview merchants' a year ago. i would say probably for the calls and inquiries that we're getting and what we have seen from the cases filed, there has been very few in the southeast sector. >> also on my pet peeves, people associate the southeast with the baby -- bayview. thre is --- there is dogpatch and bayview hill. >> i have made a presentation
between the -- for the bayview bridge and associations. i know i have -- pro isupervisor cohen: i know yu have done outreach. this is a pg show, a fmail-- whe stuff hits the fan, that is when they come out of the wo -- would work. >> we are creating focus groups with businesses that have issues that we may be tried to have
multiple points of contact and still have not been pro-active before receiving a lawsuit in terms of what are we missing in how we are communicating this information so that any materials we design that were as we are improving on that communication. supervisor mar: i strongly support adequate staffing as some have suggested but also different strategies especially with modeling tool business owners as well. supervisor wiener: thank you. the one question i have is it is important for us to do outreach and do legislation, what ever we can do to help our small businesses to make sure that we are being accessible we are also helping our small businesses protect themselves from these drive by lawsuits.
that is great, we can keep doing it but fundamentally, we need changes in the state and federal law. it is a little bit, it is a task and it is important but it is hard. until we have some common-sense reform in sacramento and washington, it will continue to be a huge challenge. my question is, we have a state legislative committee, we have a state and federal lobbyists. what are we doing as a city in sacramento to try to support efforts to reform these laws? another was a measure in sacramento that either failed or was watered-down. senator feinstein said the letter saying if you do not do something we will try to do something federally. i know this is not just about
you. what is the city doing to support these efforts? >> we do have an opportunity i think with sb 1186. we were waiting for it to be referred back to the judicial committee. what we need to do is as carla johnson had mentioned, we at the city, each of the departments and work with the supervisors to put forward a list of recommendations, we can work with you and put forward a resolution to direct the state to take some action. one of the things that is part of sb 1608 is it is supposed to look at the conflicting laws between state and federal. and that is going to be directed to the california commission on disability and scott is here,
he was newly appointed and has not yet attended a meeting. my perspective from that is i think the commission because it has had a slow start, is still kind of -- there's a lot on a plate that we may need to escalate and direct our legislature -- legislators to take direct action. supervisor wiener: we have had situations in unrelated areas for some bill that is just awful for san francisco. all of a sudden it makes its way to the floor of the assembly. it is almost borderline too late and we do not know about it, we have not done any lobbying on it. and so the broader issue where we need to be more and effective in our approach particularly in sacramento, legislation there. i hope as we learn of these things will probably spread the
word because i know a lot of us will be happy to carry resolutions to the board or do whatever we need to do. >> that is something i have been in discussion with and while components of the sp -- sb 1186, we do not have full agreement with some of the noticing elements in regard to civil rights. the two core components is the requirement around landlords notifying the tenants and prospective tenants and whether the property has been casp inspected or not and taking a look at what the state can do to minimize the conflicts and the holes and gaps between the state and federal regulation. hopefully, although it does not really address this in the bill, but also between state department such as the califo h