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Subject: Handicapped Access
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Author Messages
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11659


08/11/2013 5:22 PM  
On the front page of this site is a story about a couple wanting the condo association to provide access to the beach for their handicapped son.

Your opinions?

As it is a heart strings tugging story I will step up to bat. My heart goes out to them but, it is not an association issue.
BrianB
(California)

Posts:2820


08/11/2013 5:45 PM  
In general, the rule would be "reasonable accommodation". I didn't read the article, and don't care to, but my opinion would be entirely based on what would be required to provide said accommodation, and is it reasonable? Build a ramp of wood and some concrete, about 10 feet long? likely, reasonable. Build a ramp 500 feet long, down a cliff? Not reasonable. Pave the beach? Not reasonable. Perhaps, install a small swing jib and seat? potentially reasonable.
TimB4
(Tennessee)

Posts:17841


08/11/2013 8:10 PM  
Reasonable accommodation doesn't necessarily require the Association to foot the bill. It may only require that they allow the member to install xyz at the members expense.
BruceF1
(Connecticut)

Posts:2535


08/12/2013 4:43 AM  
A joint statement issued by the Justice Department and HUD in March, 2008, states, in part:

"A reasonable modification is a structural change made to existing premises, occupied or to be occupied by a person with a disability, in order to afford such person full enjoyment of the premises. Reasonable modifications can include structural changes to interiors and exteriors of dwellings and to common and public use areas. A request for a reasonable modification may be made at any time during the tenancy. The Act makes it unlawful for a housing provider or homeowners’ association to refuse to allow a reasonable modification to the premises when such a modification may be necessary to afford persons with disabilities full enjoyment of the premises."

From this statement I would conclude that this would include beach access if the access is on HOA common property. The expense would have to be borne by the individual requesting the access. Of course, if some other law prohibits a ramp, then it's for the courts to sort it out to determine which law prevails.

The news story is unclear and missing some details. For example, it does not state whether the association was asked to install the ramp (pay for the installation), or if only permission to install a ramp was requested.
MatthewW4
(Arizona)

Posts:500


08/12/2013 4:54 AM  
John,

In that story the association claims that providing a ramp to the beach would violate a federal law protecting the beach. There was no further discussion of that topic.

Anyone know anything about this?
FredS7
(Arizona)

Posts:927


08/12/2013 5:01 AM  
> In that story the association claims that providing a ramp to the beach would violate a federal law protecting the beach.

If so there are two steps here

- the association decides whether installation of a ramp at the expense of the disabled person's family is reasonable

- the disabled person's family is responsible for obtaining any necessary permission before construction.

TimB4
(Tennessee)

Posts:17841


08/12/2013 5:37 AM  
Actually, the story already states that the issue went to the courts and the judge ruled on the side of the condominium.

Here is a little more info about the issue if anyone is interested:

wptv.com article dated Feb. 04, 2012

JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11659


08/12/2013 8:28 AM  
In the video, what is the vest the dog is wearing?

SheliaH
(Indiana)

Posts:4284


08/13/2013 6:58 AM  
I'm wondering why the family didn't think about access ahead of time - didn't they know that wheelchairs can't move well in sand and their son would grow too big for his parents to carry? That said, I also think the association could have handled this better than "take your kid to the public beach" (that type of response is just the thing reporters slobber over).

Couldn't someone call in an environmental expert to see if there was some sort of work around - if so, the parents could pay the bill. Of course, paying for the expert and the workaround could be the heart of the issue - I wouldn't be surprised if the parents really don't want to pay for it.
MatthewW4
(Arizona)

Posts:500


08/13/2013 4:41 PM  
This story came from a local TV station. It really is not news because if you read the story you find that the parents complained to the local housing authority and lost. Then they filed a lawsuit in federal court and lost.

So why is it still being reported as news? Local TV thrives on stories about abused children, dying babies, and mistreated puppies. "HOA abuses disabled child" will get more viewer attention than "Parents lose case against HOA - Again." The first headline tugs at the heartstrings; the second requires reporting facts. Since the average local reporter understands nothing except hairspray, we won't be hearing too many facts. They reported only in passing something about a federal law that prevents the HOA from building a ramp to the beach. It would be nice to know just what that was about but we will not find out from this TV station.

TimB4
(Tennessee)

Posts:17841


08/13/2013 4:48 PM  
So true Matthew, so true.

I work in Broadcasting and have an e-mail from one of our executives who (believe it or not) stated that journalism was amplifying voices.

Funny, I always thought journalism was a simple reporting of the facts following the who, what, when, where and why methodology.

SteveM9
(Massachusetts)

Posts:3615


08/13/2013 7:18 PM  
the parents complained to the local housing authority and lost. Then they filed a lawsuit in federal court and lost.


It just brings to light how dumb some federal laws are. Just because its a local, state, or federal law, doesn't mean its right, or permanent. Dumb laws do need to be exposed with airtime.
MatthewW4
(Arizona)

Posts:500


08/13/2013 9:25 PM  
Posted By SteveM9 on 08/13/2013 7:18 PM

Dumb laws do need to be exposed with airtime.



Well, the TV station missed that mark by directing all the attention toward the association and not to the federal laws that may (or may not) stand in the way.

KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1804


08/14/2013 4:35 PM  
If confronted with an access request, I would move heaven n' earth to fully consider the request as compared to the "reasonable accommodation" standard. If possible - and if you could gauge homeowner sentiment and have the funds - why not approach it positively.

If the family immediately goes the lawsuit route, then forget it. That's not constructive. That's tyranny. Also, forget local TV news....those guys don't have the time or office backing to dive deeply. Film the tears and heartache for 6pm to get viewers, then move to the next story.
JohnC46
(South Carolina)

Posts:11659


08/14/2013 4:47 PM  
Kelly

Old axiom in that business.

If it bleeds, it leads.
KellyM3
(North Carolina)

Posts:1804


08/14/2013 5:42 PM  
I've been in that business and know that reporters - however it appears - don't go out of their way to distort a story. But, the lack of resources and time constraints mean you chase the loudest people who'll appear on camera.....if the most knowledgable person won't appear on camera, you can't drop the story. You keep moving on or get fired. HOAs always get the short end of the stick because the "bad" presidents tend to be passive aggressive can't coherently articulate their position when confronted with a public "force" more powerful and not intimidated.
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