On June 7th, 2010 I blogged about the California Commission on Disability Access (CCDA) and SB 1608, noting how CALA felt that little or nothing was happening since the Commission was created back in the fall of 2008 by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Well, I wish I could report to you that the Commission is meeting regularly and that ADA lawsuits against small businesses have vanished and there is peace in the valley. Sadly, that is not the case. Nearly three years have passed since SB 1608 was signed on September 28th, 2008 and little or nothing has been done.
As I write, the CCDA has yet to even hire an Executive Officer. They had offered the position to an individual, but it did not work out. So they had to go back to the drawing board, but should be announcing something shortly. So at least after nearly three years the Commission will have its own staff. Since 2008, it has had to use the Building Standards Commission staff.
Additionally, the Civil Enforcement Committee, which is the committee that is supposed to tackle the whole lawsuit issue, has only met once in nearly three years. And the one time it did meet it did not have a quorum. So there has not exactly been a lot of movement on the civil enforcement side of the equation either.
The Commission does have more funds than it originally was granted. In the beginning, the 17-member commission had only $80,000. Now I believe its budget is $500,000. And seriously, considering what this Commission has to deal with, that is still a very small budget. One could argue that this Commission should actually be full time.
The only things I see moving are lawsuits against small businesses. Since the signing of SB 1608, the predatory attorneys who file these ADA lawsuits have been on a rampage. And why not? This Commission has until July 1, 2013 at the earliest and July 1, 2014 at the latest to report any findings to the Legislature.
Let me clarify, I know everyone is frustrated by what is going on (except the trial lawyers). Commission members have expressed to me their frustrations and I totally understand. Someone needs to grab a hold of the reins of this commission, steer it back on course, and get the ball rolling. The public members (Asm. Ammiano, Sen. Harmon, Sen. Corbett and Asm. Conway) need to engage in the process. The reports to the Legislature need to be sped up. 2014 is too late and the fact is that when the Governor signed this bill none of us knew how far the economy would collapse. Remember, ADA compliance is not just a "business" issue.
For people who think that since the signing of SB 1608 all things related to rampant ADA lawsuits have been resolved, you are wrong. For nearly three years, nothing has been done, and all the while, these predatory attorneys have been like kids in a candy store. And hopefully an ADA-compliant candy store.