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T. 6/7/93

JUN 15 1993

Mr. Robert R. Wolting, City Manager Fairbanks City Hall Fairbanks, Alaska 99707

RE: Department of Justice Complaint Number X

Dear Mr. Wolting:


This letter constitutes the Department of Justice's Letter of Findings with respect to the complaint filed with our office under title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act [ADA]. The complainant alleged that [1] a ramp designed to provide access to the Municipal Utilities System Building [MUSB] located at 645 5th Avenue does not comply with the requirements of title II; and [2] the slope of the curb ramp to the sidewalk next to the MUSB is too steep.

With reference to the first allegation, the complainant stated that "[t]he railing attached to the side of the [MUSB] does not run the full length of the ramp. The handrail on the building begins six inches after the start of the ramp. The handrail [attached to the building] ends five feet and five inches prior to reaching the doorway." Additionally, the complainant states that "[t]he city apparently wanted to beautify the ramp, so they have placed three flower boxes at the top of the ramp. This has seriously diminished the five foot turning circle proscribed [sic] for patrons using wheelchairs." With reference to the second allegation, the complainant asserted that "[t]he ramp incorporated into the sidewalk leading from the driveway to the building rises 5 3/4" in 13"."

Title II of the ADA prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with disabilities on the basis of their disability in the services, programs, or activities of a local government such as the city of Fairbanks. Our office enforces the requirements of title II of the ADA, as applied to the issues raised by the complainant, through investigation, negotiation, and, if necessary, referral for possible litigation.

cc: Records CRS Chrono Friedlander Stewart.wolting3.lof

1 Formerly Department of Justice Complaint Number X



By a letter dated November 4, 1992, this office requested information necessary to review the complainant's allegations. In addition, we provided the city with a copy of our title II regulation, 28 C.F.R. Part 35, our title II Technical Assistance Manual, and the ADA Handbook. In a letter dated December 10, 1992, Mr. W.R. Scouten, a Project Engineer with the city's Engineering Department, responded to our request for information.

The Facts

The MUSB was constructed in 1959 and contains no programs, services, or activities that receive Federal financial assistance. The contract for the construction of the ramp to the side of the MUSB was executed on September 20, 1991, and the construction was paid for exclusively by State funds. Construction began soon after the contract was signed. The city relied upon the 1980 American National Standards Institute Standards as a basis for the design of the ramp. The installation of the ramp was part of an overall project to make the services provided in the MUSB building accessible to individuals with disabilities.

The city admitted that the handrail attached to the building's side did not extend the whole length of the slope of the ramp. Subsequently, on March 4, 1993, the city extended the handrail for the whole length of the ramp's slope. In addition, the city has removed the flower boxes located on the landing at the top of the ramp.

With respect to the curb ramp to the sidewalk from the driveway next to the MUSB, the city generally admits that at the time of the filing of the complaint on July 11, 1992, the rise was around 5 3/4 inches for a curb ramp that was only thirteen inches in length. Since both the curb ramp and the sidewalk were in existence prior to the commencement of the building ramp project, the city states that the curb ramp was not part of the project to make the entrance-to the MUSB accessible. Before our November 5, 1992, notification to the city of this investigation, the curb ramp was altered in August, 1992, so that it now has a slope of 1:12 inches with a maximum of 1:10.

Legal Standards

With respect to facilities such as the ramp to the MUSB,

which was constructed prior to January 26, 1992, the effective

date of title II, the city's obligation is to "

service, program, or activity so that the service, program, or activity, when viewed in its entirety, is readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities." 28 C.F.R. 35.150[a]. This requirement for existing facilities is known as "the program accessibility" standard. No particular design standard such as the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards

operate each



[UFAS] or the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities [ADAAG] is required, as long as the city provides program accessibility to the programs, services, or activities in its facilities.

With respect to new construction of or alterations to facilities that are begun after January 26, 1992, the effective date of title II, a public entity is required to follow the design standards of UFAS or ADAAG. See 28 C.F.R. 35.151. Therefore, alterations such as the one to the curb ramp in August 1992, must be done in a manner that complies with UFAS or ADAAG.

Issues and Analysis

Issue # 1: Whether access to the programs, services, and

activities located in the KUSB [i.e., program access] is provided by the ramp to the side of MUSB.

The requirements for program access in existing facilities apply to the ramp at the side of MUSB because the ramp was installed prior to the effective date of the title II regulation. After initiation of our investigation, the city extended the handrail and removed the flower pots from the landing of the ramp. Therefore, it is our determination that the city is in compliance with the program access requirements of title II with respect to this ramp.

Issue # 2: Whether the August 1992 alteration to the curb ramp complies with either UFAS or ADAAG.

The August 1992 alteration that the city made to the curb ramp has an acceptable slope between 1:10 and 1:12 for a maximum rise of 6 inches. This meets the requirements of ADAAG or UFAS for slope during alterations. See ADAAG at 4.1.6[a][6][i] or UFAS at § 4.1.6[4][a]. Therefore, the city is in compliance with the new construction and alteration requirements of title II with respect to the curb ramp.


The City of Fairbanks is in compliance with title II of the ADA respect to the allegations investigated. This letter does not address any other issues concerning the city's compliance with title II.

under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 TJ. S.C. 552, we may be required to release this letter and other correspondence and records related to this complaint in response to a request from a third party. Should we receive such a request, we will safeguard, to the extent permitted by the Freedom of Information




Act and the Privacy Act, the release of information that could constitute an unwarranted invasion of the complainant's or other's privacy.

We wish to thank Mr. Scouten for his valuable assistance in resolving this matter. Should you have any questions concerning this letter, please call Louis M. Stewart, the attorney assigned to this case, at (202) 616-7779.


Stewart B. Oneglia Chief Coordination and Review Section Civil Rights Division