A message from Disability Rights Advocates (http://www.dralegal.org)
About Our Lawsuit: (posted January, 2003)
In a lawsuit brought by Disability Rights Advocates against the City of Sacramento, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has found that cities are required to take reasonable steps over time to ensure that their public sidewalks are made accessible to people with mobility and/or vision disabilities. This ruling is binding on cities in California and other western states, and it will be influential throughout the nation.
Now, the City of Sacramento is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the ruling by the Ninth Circuit, and it is asking every city in the nation to join in this fight. The Cities are taking the position that they have no obligation whatsoever to take any action to remove barriers to access that exist along public sidewalks. Examples of the barriers at issue include tree roots that create abrupt changes in level (which block wheelchair access and create tripping hazards for blind pedestrians), street signs or other obstacles which narrow the width of the sidewalk, and driveways which create severe cross slopes impeding the path of travel. Cities are seeking the right to ignore these barriers which force people with disabilities to travel in the streets, at risk of serious injury or even death.
WHAT CAN YOU DO? Please send a letter to your local elected officials asking them to refuse to join the City of Sacramento in opposing access for people with disabilities. A sample form letter is attached. Please add your own personal experiences, and any other information to help illustrate to your local officials the importance of sidewalks. You can find the name and address of your local officials in the ³Government Pages² of your local phone book or online (ie search www.google.com for City of _______)
Princeton Project 55 Fellow/Paralegal,
Disability Rights Advocates
449 15th Street, Suite 303, Oakland, CA 94612 -- Phone: (510) 451-8644 Fax: (501) 451-8511 TTY: (510) 451-8716 www.dralegal.org
Mayor or City Councilmember
Dear Mayor/City Councilmember,
It has come to my attention that the City of [your city] has been asked by the City of Sacramento, California, to join its appeal of a court decision requiring that the City make its sidewalks accessible to people with disabilities. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has already determined that the Americans with Disabilities Act requires cities to take reasonable steps over time to remove access barriers on public sidewalks. Rather than comply with the law, the City of Sacramento has chosen to spend time and resources appealing the decision to the United States Supreme Court.
As a [person with a disability/friend of people with disabilities/senior citizen,] I find the City of Sacramento's position unacceptable and strongly urge the City of [your city] not to support it. People with disabilities are residents and taxpayers of this city. [We/they] need our sidewalks to be free of obstacles and barriers so that [we/they] can shop, work, and enjoy our neighborhoods. As a matter of good public policy, it is in this city's interest to preserve the safety of its streets and sidewalks, to guarantee accessibility to its citizens and visitors, and to be in compliance with the law. Safe and accessible sidewalks benefit not only people with disabilities but many others as well: seniors, parents with strollers, delivery people, walkers, joggers, and bicyclists are just a few that come to mind.
I hope that you and all other city officials will support accessibility for everyone in our community by declining to join the City of Sacramento's appeal. Thank you for your attention to this important issue.