By Jim Butler and the Global Hospitality Group®
Hotel Lawyers | Authors of www.HotelLawBlog.com
18 May 2012
DOJ extends pool lift deadline
Today, the Department of Justice announced that it is extending the ADA pool lift deadline from May 21, 2012 to January 31, 2013.
Amendment to ADA regulations
This morning, the DOJ formally published an “Amendment of the Americans with Disabilities Act Title II and III Regulations to Extend Compliance Date for Certain Requirements Related to Existing Pools and Spas Provided by State and Local Governments and by Public Accommodations” (ADAAG Sections 242 and 1009 Standards for Accessible Design).
The new pool lift Compliance Date is January 31, 2013. The Amendment acknowledges that the DOJ’s January 31, 2012 technical advisory caused “significant concerns and misunderstandings among a substantial number of pool owners and operators” with respect to the new technical requirements for pool lifts.
Background to the extension
The DOJ recently received and carefully considered comments from pool owners, operators and various industry groups and clarified a number of popular misconceptions about the new requirements. At the end of the day, the DOJ seems to have heard the public outcry, in part.
In its Technical Advisory Document of January 31, 2012, the DOJ sent tsunami-sized waves through the hospitality and pool and spa industries when it announced, for the first time, its interpretation that pool and spa lifts are required to be “fixed” (as opposed to portable) next to the pool or spa at all times the facility is open, unless it is not “readily achievable,” and they cannot be shared between water elements.
Fixed versus portable pool lifts
A fixed pool lift must be attached to the pool or spa deck. Since September 15, 2010 when the DOJ adopted the 2010 Standards, which included the first requirement for pool lifts which made no reference to “fixed” pool lifts, pool and spa equipment manufacturers began to scale portable pool lifts to meet the anticipated demand. Hotel owners and operators generally intended to purchase a single pool lift to be shared between water elements.
The DOJ sent the industry off the deep end when it announced on January 31, 2012 that portable pool lifts brought out upon a guest’s request would not generally be permitted and that the fixed pool lifts could not be shared between pools and spas. A single pool lift may be used for a “cluster” of spas.
For now, anyway, the bad news is that fixed pool lifts still appear to be required.
Except for pool lifts, the 2010 ADA Standards are in effect now
One of the most important take always for hotel owners and operators, is that while the DOJ has extended the compliance date for Sections 242 and 1009 (pool lifts) all other provisions of the 2010 ADA Standards became mandatory March 15, 2012.
While the pool lift extension is very significant for the industry, you cannot lose sight of the fact that your properties, policies, practices and procedures must comply with the 2010 Standards unless you are protected by the “safe harbor.”
Chairman, Global Hospitality Group®
Senior Member, Global Hospitality Group®
Chairman, ADA Defense Team
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