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Lodi City Council reviews city’s compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act

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Posted: Wednesday, August 1, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 7:39 am, Thu Aug 2, 2012.

Children in wheelchairs can easily roll on the rubberized surface at Emerson Park to get to playground equipment. While running errands or catching the bus, people in wheelchairs can use ramps to quickly cross Central Avenue at Lodi Avenue. And blind residents can depend on the loud chirps at some intersections on Kettleman Lane and Lodi Avenue to know when it is safe to cross.

All of these improvements are part of the city of Lodi's effort to make upgrades throughout the city to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Lodi City Council reviewed the different projects the city has completed over the last several years, and what still needs to be done to improve accessibility at city buildings and infrastructure, like streets and sidewalks, at its shirtsleeves meeting Tuesday.

They reviewed Lodi's ADA transition plan, which was created in 2005 and updated in February 2011, outlining priorities for access.

City manager Rad Bartlam said the city has focused on upgrading services Lodi residents use the most. For example, the city installed a new wheelchair ramp when it renovated the Lodi Public Library, and it added ADA parking stalls on a busy portion of Elm Street near the movie theater.

Completing ADA projects is important because it shows the city is making progress if someone legally challenges Lodi using the federal act, Bartlam said.

"We have to make those facilities that have the most number of people visiting them accessible because we have not only the obligation for accessibility, but those have the highest probability for people to challenge us," Bartlam said.

The city's main source of funding to do ADA upgrades is federal Community Development Block Grant funding.

Councilman Larry Hansen said that money is the city's only source to afford those upgrades, and he plans to stress that to federal politicians in the future when they discuss reducing funds.

"It's the most beneficial program I've seen as far as improving the quality of life for people in the community," Hansen said.

Since 1992, the city has spent a total of $8.4 million on ADA projects. That includes 15 sidewalk and ramp projects, 37 park projects and nine facility projects.

That does not include the improvements the city has made when it reconstructs roadways, Bartlam said. Currently, the city is installing ADA-compliant sidewalks and curbs while it is widening Hutchins Street from Pine Street to Lodi Avenue.

In 2010, the city reconstructed Lodi Avenue from Cherokee Lane to Sacramento Street, and put in ADA-compliant sidewalks.

The city is continuously studying the law to make sure its facilities are in compliance, Water Services manager Charlie Swimley said.

The city sometimes makes improvements and then the law gets more strict, he said.

For example, a wheelchair ramp at the north entrance of Hutchins Street Square is no longer in compliance because it is too steep, so the city plans to replace it within the next couple of years, Swimley said.

South of Kettleman Lane around Ham Lane, there are sidewalk and curb ramps that were installed in the 1980s that also are no longer in compliance.

Mayor JoAnne Mounce said it is frustrating the law changes so frequently.

"We could make a whole bunch of changes, then they could change the requirements and we'd be out of compliance again," she said.

Councilman Larry Hansen said he appreciated the overview of what the city has done.

"The city has done a pretty good job of keeping us as much in compliance as possible," he said. "You lose sight of what really has been done. It also brings to light the huge funding struggle to do this."

Contact reporter Maggie Creamer at maggiec@lodinews.com. Read her blog at www.lodinews.com/blogs/citybuzz.

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5 comments:

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 5:59 am on Thu, Aug 2, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    Ken Huntly stated...Darrel, I do think the City of Lodi is doing it for the "right thing to do" reasons, it just happens to be an expensive one

    Ken... I look forward to reading what you think and why. I appreciate learning from people like yourself.

    As far as the City of Lodi is doing it for the "right " reason which just happens to be an expensive one.. I really can not draw that conclusion.

    Resources are limited and cities are filing bankruptcy like Stockton. The city of Lodi knows for a fact they are out of compliance according to the ADA. They fear law suits plain and simple. It puts them in a better legal position if they demonstrate they are performing a good faith effort to comply. The city should not be spending one penny during this economic disaster on ADA issues. This is not right in any way as compared to 90% ofthe entire world, Lodi is already a good place to be if you area disabled person.

     
  • Kenneth Huntley posted at 11:28 pm on Wed, Aug 1, 2012.

    Ken Huntley Posts: 32

    Darrel, I do think the City of Lodi is doing it for the "right thing to do" reasons, it just happens to be an expensive one. I'm not particularly picky about ramps needing that yellow paneling with rubber grips, not sure why that's considered an ADA accessible need, when in actuality all a wheel-chair user needs, is a curb-cut side-walk to cross safely. Granted, the rubber grips probably do help in rain, but when I had my mobility scooter, I never noticed any "slip." I'll ask a couple of my friends who are wheel-chair bound to see if they slip or not.

    I do agree, the result of the ADA is a crime, there's just too many loopholes that allows anybody to sue someone because they're not in compliance. The ADA laws were not supposed to be about lawsuits, it was to help people with disabilities to publicly be able to get around town, etc via an accessible system.

    Now you got me thinking and writing, heh, keep this up Darrell, and you might just be the inspiration to every article I submit to Rich, for a column story. [whistling]

     
  • Jackson Scott posted at 4:42 pm on Wed, Aug 1, 2012.

    Jackson Scott Posts: 382

    Debbie, I heard recently (4-6wks) that a judge ruled that "Mr. ADA Lawsuit" could no longer file any claims. Basically because that was all he was doing to earn an income.

     
  • Debby Stapelberg posted at 9:25 am on Wed, Aug 1, 2012.

    Collegegirl Posts: 5

    "For example, a wheelchair ramp at the north entrance of Hutchins Street Square is no longer in compliance because it is too steep, so the city plans to replace it within the next couple of years," Swimley said.

    Shouldn't declare this information. That ...lawyer out of Sacramento will be coming back to sue.

     
  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 6:31 am on Wed, Aug 1, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9403

    So why is the millions being spent? Not because it is the right thing to do, not because it benefits a vast majority of tax payers, not because of any other reason other than the government uses fear and nothing less than blackmail in forcing what it perceives is the right thing to do. This money could be used for orphaned children or homeless single moms with innocent children to protect... instead...

    Completing ADA projects is important because it shows the city is making progress if someone legally challenges Lodi using the federal act, Bartlam said.

    The intent of the ADA is good, but the result is a crime.

     

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