The new 2013 California Building Code goes into effect in January 2014. As part 2 of a 6-month series on upcoming code changes, I’ll highlight some of the most important changes to the California Building Code before they become enforceable.
The areas we’ll focus on are the accessible elements that are called into question during almost every tenant improvement and upgrade project.
In this segment, we’ll focus on “Site Arrival Points”, which are high on the list of
elements that come into question during almost every tenant improvement and upgrade project.
The new 2013 CBC states:
1) At least one accessible route shall be provided within the site from the accessible parking spaces and the accessible passenger loading zones; public streets and sidewalks; and
public transportation stops to the accessible building or facility entrance they serve.
Where more than one route is provided, all routes must be accessible.
2) At least one accessible route shall connect accessible buildings, accessible facilities, accessible elements, and accessible spaces that are on the same site.
Exceptions: An accessible route shall not be required between site arrival points and the building entrance if the only means of access between them is a vehicular way not providing pedestrian access.
Here’s what it means practically …
Almost every property owner or manager accepts the reality of modifying their properties to provide these “Off and On Site” paths of travel for all disabled access. Many existing properties that are twenty years or older were not built with these types of accessible routes in mind. More often than not, property owners are told they have to lose precious parking stalls or landscape areas to provide this maze of accessible travel to either satisfy the 20% additional upgrade requirement from the local building agency or from their consultant or architect.
Even though the requirement to provide such paths of travel is common, the ease and cost to install them is all over the board. Some properties are flat and provide very little topographical change or mature trees to deal with. Other properties are extremely challenging and exhibit extreme topographical changes and trees that just can’t be removed without permission from the City Arborist like Redwood trees and Oaks.
We have to remember that if you are engaging in “voluntary accessible upgrades” to your property and the cost to provide such an accessible element is going to damage, alter or severely change the way the property is being used or would create a financial burden on ownership, then we are told to STOP! Don’t do that!
We need to provide access and remove barriers to disabled that is considered “readily achievable”.
If the requirement for providing such an element is being driven by the local building department then that means there has been a “trigger event” such as a permit for some alteration, modification or new construction to activate this requirement. If the cost to install this element exceeds 20% of the total valuation of your project then it could be determined that providing this path of travel is of disproportional cost and a financial burden.