T. 5-26-92 III-1.

2000 DJ 202-PL-000120 JUN 1 1992

Craig C. Birker, Esq. Sandler and Rosen Suite 510 Gateway West Century City 1801 Avenue of the Stars Los Angeles, CA 90067 Dear Mr. Birker: I am responding to your letter requesting an "interpretative ruling" from the Department of Justice that the provisions of title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) do not apply to the construction of model homes. The ADA authorizes the Department to provide technical assistance to entities that are subject to title III. This letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding how the ADA accessibility standards may apply to model homes. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a legal interpretation, and it is not binding on the Department. Model homes by themselves do not fall under any of the 12 categories of places of public accommodation. If, however, the sales office for a residential housing development were located in a model home, the area used for the sales office would be considered a place of public accommodation. Although model homes are not covered, the Department encourages developers to voluntarily provide at least a minimal level of access to model homes for potential homebuyers with disabilities. For example, a developer could provide physical access (via ramp or lift) to the primary level of one of several model homes and make photographs of other levels within the home as well as of other models available to the customer. cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, Blizard, Breen udd:Blizard.ada.interpretation.modelhomes 01-00832

-2This Department recently issued a technical assistance manual to assist individuals and entities subject to the ADA to understand the requirements of title III. I have enclosed a copy for your information. I hope that this information is helpful to you. Sincerely, John L. Wodatch Director Office on the Americans with Disabilities Act Civil Rights Division Enclosure 01-00833

September 5, 1991 VIA FEDERAL EXPRESS Mr. John Wodatch Office Of The Americans With Disabilities Act Civil Rights Division U.S. Department of Justice Rulemaking Docket 003 Box 75087 Washington, D.C. 20013 Re: Americans With Disabilities Act Request For Interpretative Ruling Regarding Certain Model Homes

Dear Mr. Wodatch: Our law firm represents Pardee Construction Company and Pardee Construction Company of Nevada (collectively "Pardee"), both of which are subsidiaries of Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company, a subsidiary of Weyerhaeuser Company. Pardee develops masterplanned communities in Southern California and Nevada, consisting of single family and multi-family residences, as well as commercial projects. As part of its residential projects, Pardee constructs model homes. The purpose of this letter is to request an interpretative ruling from the Department of Justice that the provisions of Title III of the Americans With Disabilities Act ("ADA") do not apply to the model homes described herein. Granting such an exemption will not permit Pardee or other residential real estate developers to discriminate against the disabled. Discriminatory practices in residential real estate transactions are prohibited by the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. 3601 et. seq.). Section 3605(a) of the Fair Housing Act states as follows: "It shall be unlawful for any person or other entity

whose business includes engaging in residential real 002P3EMO.972 01-00834

Mr. John Wodatch September 5, 1991 Page 2 estate-related transactions to discriminate against any person in making available such a transaction, or in the terms or conditions of such a transaction, because of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, or national origin." We want to emphasize that the subject of our request is limited to model homes and we are not requesting an exemption for sales offices. We also recognize that a blanket exemption for all model homes may not be appropriate. For example, a model home which also serves as a sales or escrow office may be a commercial facility to which the provisions of Title III of the ADA probably should apply. To evaluate our request, it is important to understand the different functions of model homes and sales offices utilized by Pardee and many other developers in Southern California and Nevada. Although in some cases Pardee's sales offices may be located in the garage of a model home or in a future dwelling unit of a multifamily building, Pardee's model homes and sales offices are separate facilities and serve different purposes. In the sales office, prospective buyers can review maps, floor plans, photographs and brochures relating to the homes in the development and can discuss their prospective purchase with Pardee salespeople. After prospective buyers have made their decision to purchase, they review and sign purchase documents in the sales office, not in the model home. Pardee's closings are handled through an outside escrow company and do not take place in the sales office or model homes.

Pardee's sales offices are constructed in compliance with all applicable state and local codes relating to commercial facilities, including California and Nevada disability access laws. Pardee's sales offices will be constructed in full compliance with the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, at such time when such compliance is required. On the other hand, model homes are constructed for the purposes of showing prospective buyers what their home will look like. The model homes are intended to be accurate representations of the homes constructed in the project. When the project has sold out, the model homes are sold to the public. Sales personnel are not stationed in the model homes, but may accompany prospective buyers visiting the models to answer any 002P3EMO.972 01-00835 Mr. John Wodatch September 5, 1991 Page 3 questions they may have. Prospective buyers also have the option to visit model homes alone. Model homes are constructed in accordance with building codes applicable to residences and not commercial facilities. If a model home is required to comply with the ADA Accessibility Guidelines, drastic changes would have to be made in its design and construction. The changes would include the following: 1. Installation of ramps to the front entry area and in some cases to the interior of the model home to provide wheelchair access into and through the unit. Increase the width of hallways to accommodate latchside clearances. Raise all door heights to 80 inches. Substantially increase the size of bathrooms to provide wheelchair access; redesign toilet and lavatory area; change height of sink; provide foot space below sink; install grab bars; install towel dispensers; raise height of toilet seat; change angles and locations of mirrors; and install lever-operated faucets. Installation of lever hardware for doors.

2. 3 4.


6. 7.

Increase the width of bathroom and bedroom doorways and doors. Add a second handrail to staircase and provide warning devices for sight-impaired persons for low clearances under the stairs.

The cost of these alterations would ultimately be passed on to the consumer. There is no reason to require these substantial permanent alterations to a model home. A disabled person does not intend to live in the model home; he or she only needs to examine it. Pardee will take reasonable steps to provide a disabled prospective homebuyer access to the interior of the model home. Such efforts would include assisting a disabled person in a wheelchair up the front steps and into and through the model home. Restroom facilities for the disabled are already available at the sales office located in close proximity to the model homes. 002P3EMO.972 01-00836 Mr. John Wodatch September 5, 1991 Page 5 "dwelling" as "any building, structure or portion thereof which is occupied as, or designed or intended for occupancy as, a residence by one or more families, and any vacant land which is offered for sale or lease for the construction or location thereon of any such building, structure or portion thereof." A model home is a building or structure designed or intended for occupancy as a residence. It is a "dwelling" covered by the Fair Housing Act, and is not a "commercial facility" under the ADA definition. Therefore, model homes should be subject to the anti-discrimination provisions of the Fair Housing Act and not the ADA. For all of these reasons, we respectfully request the Department of Justice to issue an interpretative ruling that the model homes described hereinabove are not subject to the provisions of Title III of the ADA. If you have any questions or need any further information, please contact me at your convenience. Very truly yours,

Craig C. Birker of Sandler and Rosen CCB:mxh cc: Ms. Marianne McGettigan (Via Federal Express) Special Assistant to the President/ Policy Development & Legal Policy Mr. Leonard S. Frank Pardee Construction Company Mr. Fred S. Benson (Via Federal Express) Weyerhaeuser Company Ms. Creigh H. Agnew (Via Federal Express) Weyerhaeuser Company 002P3EMO.972 01-00837