NPA Legislative Alert, March 9, 2012

New ADA Requirements for Parking Take Effect March 15, 2012
By Michael L. Stevens

The Department of Justice (“DOJ”) revised its regulations for the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”) on September 15, 2010. The new regulations include, among other things, new standards for accessible design that apply to parking spaces (the “2010 Standards”). These standards update the previous 1991 Standards issued by DOJ.

All areas of newly designed and newly constructed buildings and facilities and altered portions of existing buildings and facilities must comply with these requirements. The compliance date for the 2010 Standards for new construction and alterations is determined by:

  • the date the last application for a building permit or permit extension is certified to be complete by a State, county, or local government;
  • the date the last application for a building permit or permit extension is received by a State, county, or local government, where the government does not certify the completion of applications; or
  • the start of physical construction or alteration, if no permit is required.

If that date is on or after March 15, 2012, then new construction and alterations must comply with the 2010 Standards. If that date is on or after September 15, 2010, and before March 15, 2012, then new construction and alterations must comply with either the 1991 or the 2010 Standards.

Where parking spaces are provided, the 1991 Standards require a specified number of the parking spaces to be accessible. The 2010 Standards include an exception that exempts parking spaces used exclusively for buses, trucks, delivery vehicles, law enforcement vehicles, or for purposes of vehicular impound, from the scoping requirement for parking spaces, provided that when these lots are accessed by the public the lot has an accessible passenger loading zone.

The 2010 Standards require accessible parking spaces to be identified by signs that display the International Symbol of Accessibility. They exempt certain accessible parking spaces from this signage requirement: sites that have four or fewer parking spaces and residential facilities where parking spaces are assigned to specific dwelling units.

The 2010 Standards also require that an accessible route adjoin each access aisle serving accessible parking spaces. The accessible route connects each access aisle to accessible entrances. Accessible parking spaces must be located on the shortest accessible route of travel to an accessible entrance. Accessible parking spaces and the required accessible route should be located where individuals with disabilities do not have to cross vehicular lanes or pass behind parked vehicles to have access to an accessible entrance. If it is necessary to cross a vehicular lane because, for example, local fire engine access requirements prohibit parking immediately adjacent to a building, then a marked crossing running perpendicular to the vehicular route should be included as part of the accessible route to an accessible entrance.

The 1991 Standards require one in every eight accessible parking spaces to be van accessible. The 2010 Standards requires one in every six accessible parking spaces to be van accessible. However, the 2010 Standards do not prohibit automobiles other than vans from using van accessible parking spaces. DOJ does not distinguish between vehicles that are actual "vans" versus other vehicles such as trucks, station wagons, sport utility vehicles, etc., since many vehicles other than vans may be used by individuals with disabilities to transport mobility devices. It is important to note that DOJ did not increase the total number of accessible spaces required. The only change was to increase the proportion of spaces that must be accessible to vans and other vehicles equipped to transport mobility devices.

Where levels in a parking garage have direct connections for pedestrians to another facility, the 1991 Standards require at least one of the direct connections to be accessible. The 2010 Standards require all of these direct connections to be accessible.

NPA will continue to monitor ADA developments that apply to parking facilities.