DJ 202-PL-919

Mr. Robert E. Mackensen Department of General Services State Historical Building Safety Board 400 P Street, 5th Floor Sacramento, California 95814 Dear Mr. Mackensen: This is in response to your letter regarding the application of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to alterations to historic buildings owned by State or local governments. The ADA authorizes the Department of Justice to provide technical assistance to individuals and entities that have rights or responsibilities under the Act. Pursuant to that authority, this letter provides informal guidance to assist you in understanding the ADA. However, this technical assistance does not constitute a legal interpretation of the statute, and it is not binding on the Department. Title II of the ADA applies to State and local governments, and the departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of such governments. Title II prohibits discrimination by such public entities on the basis of disability. If a facility is altered by, or on behalf of, or for the use of a public entity in a manner that affects or could affect the usability of the facility, the altered portion of the facility must be made accessible to the maximum extent feasible. The alterations requirement is not dependent on whether the public entity operates a program in the facility. Nor does this general obligation differ according to the type of program offered. Title II provides that alterations to historic properties must comply, to the maximum extent feasible, with either §4.1.7 of the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS) or §4.1.7 of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (Standards). Both UFAS and the ADA Standards provide alternative accessibility requirements for some elements in situations where full accessibility would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building. Neither UFAS nor the ADA Standards look to the purpose for which the historic building is used in determining

cc: Records, Chrono, Wodatch, Hill, FOIA, Friedlander n:\udd\hille\policylt\mack.ltr 01-03555​ -2whether application of the alternative accessibility requirements is permissible. For buildings that are not being altered, title II requires that program access be provided. If a historic building hosts a program of a State or local government, that program must be made accessible. If the program is not one of historic preservation, it may be possible to achieve program access by relocating the program to an accessible site and the historic building may not need to be made accessible. If, however, the program involves the historic preservation of the building itself, relocation of the program would defeat the purpose of the program. In that situation, the building would have to be made accessible unless to do so would threaten or destroy the historic significance of the building. I hope this information is helpful to you. Sincerely, John L. Wodatch Chief Public Access Section 01-03556