Transforming problem houses into Dream Homes

San Francisco’s Accessible Business Entrance Program

It isn’t all accessory dwellings and roses here in my studio. I also take on some other types of work, including Accessibility consulting. Right now I am helping a client complete the audit forms for San Francisco’s Accessible Business Entrance Program.

The Accessible Business Entrance Program is San Francisco’s way to ensure that as many of the City’s businesses as possible are readily accessible to those with disabilities. I suspect this program was instituted because before this program, a business didn’t have to address accessibility issues until the building or tenant space was remodeled. This program is aimed at those businesses that haven’t been remodeled in, literally, decades.

The process isn’t that difficult there is a form which must be completed by an architect or certified accessibility specialist. The form is basically a check list of items the City has determined are the bare minimum requirements to allow a business to be readily accessible. It is the path from parking/transportation to the primary entrance and the primary entrance itself (both inside and outside).

If there are any deficiencies, that is indicated on the form, photographs of the entrances are provided, as well as an itemization of the remedial work required. This form has to be filed by 5/23/18, though I was told at the desk that that date has been pushed out to 6/23, however the website has not been updated. (I am still working to meet the 5/23 deadline.) You then have anywhere from a couple of months to a couple of years to file for permits to correct whatever needs correction. How long you have to file for the permits depends on the nature of the required remediation.

The website indicates a per building filing fee of $96.72. However, I was told at the desk that these fees have been eliminated. I will find out if that is true when I file the forms.

My client owns two buildings. In one building all of the businesses had either fully accessible entrances, or entrances with minor corrections (changing from knob hardware to lever hardware for example). In the other building, one entrance is fully accessible, but the other has significant obstacles to accessibility. In this case, we will file the initial form, and then we will have until November of 2019 to file for a permit to either fix the work or get a “technically infeasibility” waiver. (Getting the waiver requires filing for a permit. Don’t ask me why.)

If you own a building in San Francisco which has businesses that provide “public accommodation” (primarily retail and service businesses where clients may visit), you should have received at least two mailings from the City about this program. If haven’t already, you should hop on this and get your entrances audited and the forms filed with the City. I might be able to help you with this effort. Feel free to contact me about your building.

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