ADA Lawsuits in Chinatown ——By Mayor London Breed
Last week, I joined a meeting held by the Chinese Chamber of Commerce to announce the City’s efforts to support small businesses impacted by disability access lawsuits in Chinatown.
Over the past month, there have been lawsuits filed and demand letters sent to small businesses citywide alleging violations of federal disability access laws, specifically violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). While merchants and property owners are working with attorneys and community service providers to respond to these allegations, it is critical for the City to allocate resources to help these merchants.
I know that our merchants share the commitment to including rights guaranteed by the Americans with Disabilities Act, and also take accessibility very seriously because small businesses also want to share the goods and services that they work so hard to provide to our visitors, workers and residents.
We also know that small businesses are still trying to recover. Many of them have struggled, and are still struggling, to survive. And we’ve been there to help support them because this City’s economic recovery depends in large measure on getting you all back on your feet and thriving.
The City is here to support small businesses to help them ensure that they are in compliance with accessibility mandates, which we know they want to successfully meet, but may need some help to accomplish.
I have asked our City Administrator, Carmen Chu, to convene the necessary departments and city staff to make sure that we are putting everything on the table to help the small business community today and into the future.
Together, we are pulling together to support our community with immediate access to $50,000 for inspections to help determine whether a physical building entrance is accessible, and if it is not, what is needed to fix it so that it is accessible. We are also expediting the re-start of the Disability Access Fund with a minimum amount of $500,000 for inspections and remediation, which includes construction costs. This Fund was slated to re-start in January 2022 but we are working to expedite the release of those funds for the urgent needs arising today.
I want our Chinatown businesses to know that we are here to help and I want to make it clear that their successes are directly tied to our City’s economic recovery. And I want to thank the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Chinatown Merchants Association for working with the merchants and bringing this issue to my attention.
Stay safe and healthy.
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London N. Breed