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CITY OF OAKLAND

CITY HALL 1 FRANK H. OGAWA PLAZA OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA 94612

OFFICE OF THE CITY ADMINISTRATOR


Arturo Sanchez
Interim Assistant City Administrator

(510) 238-3301
FAX: (510) 238-2223
TDD: (510) 238-3254

June 3, 2014
C.J. Hirschfield, Executive Director
Fairyland
699 Bellevue Avenue
Oakland, CA 94610
Re:

ADA Complaint

Dear CJ:
Thank you for meeting with me to discuss your position regarding Fairylands admission
policies and the Citys investigation into an ADA-complaint from the mother of a boy with
autism who had sought free admission to Fairyland for her sons 1:1 behavioral aide as a
reasonable accommodation. This letter will set forth the Citys findings and policy position.
The City has concluded its investigation, including the follow-up activities discussed at our
meeting on May 22nd (consultation with the U.S. Department of Justice and surveying other
municipalities and similar childrens parks). As a result of these activities, the City has
concluded that the ADA requires programs such as Fairyland to allow for free admission to
childrens 1:1 aides. The Citys rationale is as follows.
First, both Title II (covering public entities such as Oakland) and Title III (covering
businesses, nonprofits and other non-governmental organizations that offer goods and
services to the public) of the ADA generally require that covered entities make reasonable
modifications to their policies, practices and procedures when necessary to allow a person
with a disability access to their programs or services. The Citys own Administrative
Instruction 123 and its Special Events Policy reference this requirement and the Citys
Schedules C-1 and C-2 extend these policies to its contractors. With this framework, the
question here was always whether waiving admission fees for the 1:1 aide of a child with a
disability would be reasonable.
The ADA states that what is reasonable is something that does not fundamentally alter an
entitys programs or services, or cause an undue financial or administrative burden. There
is no bright line test for what constitutes a fundamental alteration or undue burden in the
statute; whether these limitations apply to a particular accommodation request must be
assessed on a case-by-case basis. For this reason, it is illustrative of what is considered
reasonable to look to other municipalities and entities practices with respect to the type of
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request that is the subject of the complaint: the free admission of a 1:1 aide. All of the
entities that we contacted since our meeting - San Francisco, Berkeley, the San Diego Zoo,
Fairytale Town in Sacramento and Happy Hollow in San Jose - all confirmed or state in
written policy online that 1:1 aides of persons with disabilities are allowed free
admission. By waiving admission in these circumstances, these entities that are very
similar to the City of Oakland and Childrens Fairyland have determined that honoring such
requests does not constitute a fundamental alteration of their program or service, and does
not create an undue financial or administrative burden. The City can therefore only
conclude that modifying Fairylands admission policies and the policies governing other
similar City programs to allow for admission of 1:1 aides is reasonable.
Therefore, going forward it is now the Citys policy to require programs such as Childrens
Fairyland to offer free admission to childrens 1:1 aides when requested as an
accommodation. To alert other entities and City programs of their responsibilities with
respect to responding to these requests, the City will be make necessary changes to its
ADA and Special Events Policies, and Schedules C-1 and C-2.
To comply with the Citys policy, Fairyland should immediately implement a policy of
granting free access to childrens 1:1 aides when requested. The City has also prepared
the following statement that should be posted to Fairylands Facebook page confirming this
new policy, which will hopefully close the loop on the online dialogue surrounding this
complaint:
Childrens Fairyland has always embraced the diversity of the City of Oakland, and
shares the Citys vision of full inclusion of persons with disabilities in all aspects of
life. Because of this commitment, Fairyland has adopted a policy of offering free
admission for 1:1 aides of children with disabilities visiting the park, effective
immediately. Your feedback has been important to us as we continue our tradition of
being a destination for all children.
Please contact the ADA Programs Division to confirm when this statement is posted and
that staff have been made aware of this new policy, no later than June 13, 2014.
Thank you for your patience as we investigated this complaint. We appreciated your
cooperation and willingness to learn along with us about how other similar entities are
handling these requests. Both the City and Fairyland can be confident that our approach
will be consistent with what other municipalities and childrens parks are doing to
accommodate persons with disabilities.
Sincerely,

Arturo Sanchez
Interim Assistant City Administrator
cc:

Sherri Rita, ADA Specialist


Amber MacCaulay, Deputy City Attorney
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