Senate Bill 269
Disability access is an issue that challenges many small businesses, especially when aggressive lawyers have developed practices around suing for violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) and California’s Construction-Related Accessibility Standards Compliance Act. Effective immediately, Senate Bill 269 now provides small business with the opportunity to cure technical violations within fifteen days after the service of a summons and complaint or receipt of a written notice of violations, whichever is sooner, and thirty days to cure certain recent and permitted construction-related violations. Alternatively, business owners may engage a certified access specialist to prepare a survey of the property and have one hundred twenty days to complete corrections before facing potential liability for the violations that were discovered by the survey.
The summary of SB 269 in the paragraph above does not address all of the possible issues that arise with this new legislation. The Legislative digest is nearly two pages in length, and the bill involves limits on statutory damages, requirements for postings, distinctions between types of violations, different cure periods in different situations and different definitions of small businesses based on certain circumstances. Also, this new legislation only addresses state law and does not affect the federal statutes implementing the ADA. Consequently, it will take some time to clarify the real impact of this new legislation. The good news, though, is that it is a step in the right direction.