Accessible Business Program - For Professionals

InspectorIf the building is not exempt, the ordinance requires that building owners, or tenants, employ an “Inspector,” defined as California licensed Architect, Engineer or a Certified Access Specialist (CASp), to inspect the primary entrance(s) of all public accommodations. The hired design professionals or CASp will complete a Category Checklist Compliance Form for each primary entry of a public accommodation, determine the Category of the entrance, and identify the barrier removal work required. The building will be required to comply with the compliance schedule.

Note: The Category Checklist Compliance Form does not require all elements of the entry to fully comply with current regulations. A number of the requirements in the checklist are based upon the 1998 California Building Code and considered useable. The Department will accept these elements as meeting the requirements of the ordinance. Please consult the Technical Specifications Guidelines.

It is strongly suggested that the design professional or CASp recommend to the client to meet current codes wherever it is readily achievable to do so as most repairs are inexpensive.

Instructions for the Inspector:

  1. Closely read the Ordinance and Information Sheet DA-17 for inspecting the entrance compliance with the requirements listed in the checklist form. This ordinance applies only to the primary entrance(s) and does not require improvement to any other features within the structure. Use the Technical Specifications Guidelines to assist in determining entry compliance when filling out the checklist form.
  2. After conducting a survey of the entry, fill out the checklist and determine the category that applies. If the building has multiple public accommodations, with separate entries, each entry must be evaluated separately and each entry must be described in a separate form. If you are evaluating an entire building and there are multiple entries into multiple public accommodations, the entire building may be classified as the category of the least accessible entry and will be required to comply with the time table for that category.

If you determine the entry is:

  1. CATEGORY I.  If all of the elements of the entrance meet the requirements of the checklist form, and there are no steps or other barriers leading to the entry, check the Category One box. Sign and place your stamp or CASp number on the form. Submit the form to the Department as indicated for Category One buildings. After review and approval, the Department will mail to the owner and/or tenant a Certificate of Final Completion verifying compliance with the Ordinance.
  2. CATEGORY II, III, or IV. Determine which category the building or entry most closely fits and check the appropriate category box. You must then advise the owner or tenant of your findings. It will be the responsibility of the Inspector to assist the owner / tenant in determining the best method of making the entry accessible, and describe in detail the proposed plan in Section 5 of the checklist form.
  1. If it is determined that corrective work will be required to make the entrance(s) comply, the Department will require that you use the following order of priority in developing the plan for remediation. Please remember that building entries present a unique challenge in that they involve multiple City Departments and Agencies. We are making every effort to streamline the process, but in many cases it will involve multiple agencies and might take a little time. Please plan accordingly.
  1. First, investigate the structure within the site lines to see if the entry can be made useable by removing a stoop and ramping the entry, widening the door, or simply installing a power door operator. In more complex situations, it may be feasible to use an inclined platform or regular platform lift. Before finalizing any plan that involves altering the exterior of the structure, you must consult with the Planning Department (see #4 below).
  2. Second, if you cannot remove the barrier by altering the building due to physical or legal constraints, document exactly why this cannot be done and then see if you can (first preference) warp the sidewalk or (second preference) install a ramp to make the entrance(s) usable. You will need to work closely with Public Works to determine exactly what measurements and information will be required to make these alterations. 
  3. Where is can be proven that it is either technically infeasible to remove the barriers or it would clearly pose and unreasonable hardship, you will be asked to assist the owner / tenant in developing a plan to offer the goods and services through alternate methods. This could involve curbside service, home delivery, installing a sliding window, or many other options. The alternate methods must be such that persons with disabilities are provided with maximum independence possible in accessing the goods or services, and there is no danger posed to their health or safety. Alternate methods will only be allowed when it can be clearly documented that the entrance(s) cannot be made usable. Such documentation must be reviewed and approved by the Compliance Unit and/or the Access Appeals Commission.
  1. Prior to submitting the checklist for categories II, III, and IV, you must comply with the following:
  1. Fill out the Planning Department’s Checklist for Alterations to Commercial Storefronts for Accessibility and bring it to the Planning Information Center, 1660 Mission St, 1st Floor, Counter #1, for review and comment.
  2. If the Planning Department conceptually approves of the remediation plan, attach Planning’s comments to the Category Checklist Compliance Form and submit per the compliance schedule.
  3. If the Planning Department determines the structure is a Historic Resource and expresses concern regarding the proposed alterations, consult the Planning Department’s Historic Neighborhood Commercial Storefronts ADA & Seismic Upgrade Design Guidelines. When compliance with the regular code would threaten or destroy the historic fabric of the building, you may use the alternative compliance methods prescribed in the California Historic Building Code (CHBC). If compliance with the CBC or compliance with CHBC cannot be met without destruction of the historic fabric of the entry, documentation by the “Inspector”, Department, and possibly a local group representing persons with disabilities will be required. Consultation with the Compliance Unit and an Architect experienced in working with the CHBC is recommended.
  4. If the planned work involves alteration to the sidewalk or curb, consult with Public Works' Street Division at (415) 558-6060 to make sure the remediation plan is consistent with Public Works’ guidelines, and to determine what information must be provided to the Streets Division for review and approval.
  5. After consultation with all of the above agencies, submit the checklist(s) to DBI per the timetable. If there is no objection from the Department to the proposed plan, you will be asked to submit a permit application for any work requiring a permit and accompany the application with any plans that would normally be required for such work. 
  1. For entrance(s) determined to be technically infeasible or would create an unreasonable hardship:

Any findings of technical infeasibility based upon structural concerns will require a detailed description of the main structural elements involved and a description of how compliance would require alteration or removal of such elements. Any other findings of infeasibility should be validated by reference to such materials as the Title III Technical Assistance Manual or the Guidance on the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design published by the U.S. Department of Justice. Material published by the U.S. Access Board may also be submitted for consideration.

All unreasonable hardships must be ratified or reviewed by the Access Appeals Commission (AAC). In making their decision, the AAC may require documentation of the length of time the tenant and/or the property owner has owned the business and/or structure. They may also request financial data from either or both parties. If an unreasonable hardship is requested, please advise both parties and contact the compliance unit as soon as possible for guidance to arrange a ratification or appeal by the AAC.

Note: The Department will allow the tenant or owner to comply with submittal of the checklist and complete any required work sooner than required date in the ordinance timetable, if so desired.