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AB-1994 Disability access: causes of action.(2011-2012)

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CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2011–2012 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1994


Introduced  by  Assembly Member Huber

February 23, 2012


An act to add Sections 55.5 and 55.6 to the Civil Code, and to amend Section 4452 of the Government Code, relating to disability access.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1994, as introduced, Huber. Disability access: causes of action.
Under existing law, a person, firm, or corporation that interferes with the access rights of a disabled individual is liable for the actual damages of each offense and any amount determined by a judge or jury of up to 3 times the amount of the actual damages, but in no case less than $1,000. Existing law requires the State Architect to develop and submit for approval and adoption building standards for making buildings, structures, sidewalks, curbs, and related facilities accessible to, and usable by, persons with disabilities, as specified.
This bill would require every county to establish a program that requires an alleged aggrieved party under the state access laws to file a complaint with the county planning department in which an alleged violation occurred. The bill would require the county planning department to refer every complaint received under this act to a certified access specialist to determine what measures are necessary to remedy the alleged violation and the estimated timeframe for remedy. The bill would require the adoption of a compliance schedule and require issuance of building permits to the owner, agent, or responsible party of the alleged violation. The bill would require all complaints to be subject to the compliance schedule prior to a cause of action being filed. The bill would authorize the county to charge a fee to the owner, agent, or responsible party of the alleged violation for the costs of the program and the compliance schedule.
By imposing additional duties on a county, this bill would create a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 55.5 is added to the Civil Code, to read:

55.5.
 (a) Notwithstanding any other law, every county shall establish a program that requires an alleged aggrieved party under this chapter to file a complaint with the county planning department in which an alleged violation occurred.
(b) A county planning department shall refer every complaint received under this section to a certified access specialist to determine what measures are necessary to remedy the alleged violation and the estimated timeframe for remedy. The county planning department shall notify the owner of the property, agent, or other responsible party where the alleged violation occurred of any complaint filed under this section and the measures that are required to be taken to remedy the alleged violation and the timeframe for compliance.
(c) The county planning department shall be guided by the recommendations of the certified access specialist, but may modify the recommendations, as needed. The county planning department shall approve the final guidelines and timeframe for compliance and shall expeditiously submit the compliance schedule to the alleged aggrieved party and the owner of the property, agent, or other responsible party. The owner of the property, agent, or other responsible party shall be subject to the compliance schedule for repair of any alleged violation.
(d) The county planning department or other county entity shall issue building permits to the owner of the property, agent, or other responsible party for purposes of compliance with this section. The issuance of building permits shall be subject to existing statutes and regulations, including existing fees.
(e) If the owner of the property, agent, or other responsible party fails to comply with the compliance schedule or any of the timeframes for repair, the alleged aggrieved party may file a cause of action at any point in time thereafter.
(f) Notwithstanding subdivision (e), the county planning department may, at any point during the time for repair, amend the compliance schedule upon the request of the owner of the property, agent, or other responsible party, if the following requirements are met:
(1) The owner, agent, or other responsible party proves that he or she has been diligent in meeting, and has made progress in attempting to meet, the requirements of the compliance schedule. The circumstances for which the county planning department may approve the amendment of the compliance schedule include proof of incremental weather or backordered, destroyed, or stolen supplies or equipment.
(2) The alleged aggrieved party is provided notice of the amendment prior to amendment.
(3) The alleged aggrieved party is provided an opportunity to rebut the statements of the owner, agent, or other responsible party.
(4) The county planning department weighs the evidence and provides on the record the reason for approving or denying the amendment of the compliance schedule.
(g) All alleged violations under this chapter shall be subject to this section prior to a cause of action being filed.
(h) A county may charge the owner, agent, or other responsible party a reasonable fee that does not exceed the costs of operating the program and implementation of compliance schedules.

SEC. 2.

 Section 55.6 is added to the Civil Code, to read:

55.6.
 Notwithstanding any other law, prior to filing a claim under Section 51, 52, 54, 54.1, or 54.3, or Section 4450 or 4452 of the Government Code, an alleged aggrieved party shall notify the county in which the alleged violation occurred by personal service, in accordance with applicable state or federal laws, or certified mail, of all alleged special access violations for which a claim may be filed by the alleged aggrieved party. The alleged aggrieved party may not file any cause of action for an alleged violation until the county determines that the alleged violation has not been remedied pursuant to the requirements set forth in Section 55.5.

SEC. 3.

 Section 4452 of the Government Code is amended to read:

4452.
 (a) It is the intent of the Legislature that the building standards published in the State Building Standards Code relating to access by the physically handicapped and the other regulations adopted by the State Architect pursuant to Section 4450 shall be used as minimum requirements to insure that buildings, structures and related facilities covered by this chapter are accessible to, and functional for, the physically handicapped to, through, and within their doors, without loss of function, space, or facility where the general public is concerned.

Any

(b) Any unauthorized deviation from such those regulations or building standards shall be rectified by full compliance within 90 days after discovery of the deviation.
(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (b), prior to any action commenced for an alleged violation of Section 4450 or this section, the notice requirements and procedures specified in Sections 55.5 and 55.6 of the Civil Code shall apply to the alleged aggrieved party.

SEC. 4.

 No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because a local agency or school district has the authority to levy service charges, fees, or assessments sufficient to pay for the program or level of service mandated by this act, within the meaning of Section 17556 of the Government Code.