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ADA Parking And Parking Lots

ADA lawsuits often focus on a lack of compliant ADA parking spaces, access aisles and proper slopes. Here are some of the general requirements when addressing, or trying to avoid, an ADA lawsuit as it pertains to ADA parking.

Most businesses open to the public (see separate page on what this might mean), will require one ADA space per each 25 parking spaces. A higher number may be required for certain types of facilities, like hospitals and certain other medical providers. Exceptions tend to turn on the “readily achievable standard.” Of the ADA spaces, one in six will need to be “van accessible” spaces. So, for example, if there are 45 parking spaces, there need to be two ADA spaces, one can be a regular ADA space, and one will need to be a van accessible space. The main difference between a regular ADA space and a van space is the width and placement of the “access aisle.” The access aisle is the loading and unloading striped area next to the ADA space. A compliant van ADA space will have the access aisle on the passenger side of the van (it is assumed that the driver will front into the space and not back into the space). In addition, the striped access aisle will be 8 feet wide instead of 5 feet wide. Note that two ADA spaces can “share” an access aisle. So, often you will see a van space to the left of the access aisle and a regular space to the right of the access aisle. In addition, the van space will have some extra language on the sign in front of the space indicating it is “van accessible.” In California, the sign must also state there is a $250 fine.

ADA Parking 101

In California, each ADA space will need to be 18 feet long by 9 feet wide with a proper symbol painted within the space. For a van space, the access aisle (sometimes called a loading zone with diagonal stripes) needs to be on the passenger side of the van space, and will be 18 feet long also. The diagonal stripes need to be 3 inches wide and 36 inches, on center, apart and of the right contrasting color. Also, inside the access aisle, at the end – toward the rear of the van, there need to be 12-inch block white letters that say “NO PARKING.” As mentioned, also in the access aisle, the diagonal stripes need to be correctly spaced, with the correct thickness noted above. Also, as mentioned, the access aisle (loading zone) is 8 feet wide if it is being used by a van accessible space, and at least 5 feet wide if used by a regular ADA space. For a nonvan ADA space, the access aisle can be either on the driver’s side or on the passenger side. Note, that two ADA spaces can share an access aisle as discussed above. In addition, both the ADA space and the accessible will need to be leveled, which means no more than a 2% grade in all directions. Note that no part of the ramp can extend into either the ADA space or into the access aisle, which would create any more than a 2% grade in any part of the access aisle or any part of the ADA space.

Here’s an image that might help understand the above:

We usually advise our clients to stay well within the requirements, since the folks who install these spaces may be off a few inches or a few degrees and also, over time, slopes will tend to change shape a bit due to weather and occasional repairs. So, for example, instead of having the space 9 feet wide, I advise it to be an extra few inches, and instead of 2% grade, we suggest 1.5% grade, etc.

Note that no part of any ramp (or elevation change) can be in either the ADA space or the access aisle. This is a common mistake that ADA litigants look for.

Note also the dimensions will be different is the ADA space is placed on a diagonal. The above assumes the space is a typical 90 degrees from the driveway and any sidewalk in front of the space.

In addition to compliant spaces and access aisles, there will be a need to be an unobstructed path to the entryway of the business or businesses with the proper slope and proper “cross-slope” and properly striped to the point where it meets a sidewalk or entryway. In California, the path of travel is usually 4 feet wide. Often there is a “step up” from the access aisle to the walkway in front of a business. Where this exists there are different solutions. Sometimes, cutting into the walkway with short slops upward within the walkway can be a solution. Other solutions might be a ramp of the right size and configuration next to the access aisle, yet other solutions might be to put in place a path of travel property painted with cross stripes so the disabled person can take a path to an area that has a higher elevation.

Some additional information about walkways and ramps. If not too long, a walkway can have up to a 5% grade and will not need to have handrails. Ramps can have up to 8% if not too long, but will need handrails on both sides. Very long ramps will need a flat area every so often to give the person a chance to rest. The discussion above is general information and the exact requirement can be easily obtained. Note that when using a digital level, make sure the level is set to percent (%) and not degree when checking the grades noted above, which are discussed in percent grade and not degrees.

At Karlin Law Firm LLP, we often discuss various options and may recommend the client retain the advice of a private CASp inspector. CASp is defined as a certified access specialist professional. Other times, in a simple case, a reputable paving or parking lot company must be familiar with what may need to be done.

Karlin Law Firm LLP is a top-rated California ADA defense law firm with branch offices throughout California. Our attorneys defend ADA lawsuits filed throughout California, including Orange, Los Angeles, San Diego, Tustin, Kern, Tustin, San Bernardino, Sacramento and San Jose counties and filed in California Superior Court and in U.S. District Court for central, northern, eastern and southern districts and the U.S. Federal Court.