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Sacramento Commercial Real Estate Broker Takes Note of SB 1186 Related to Frivolous ADA Lawsuits

Sacramento Area Commercial Real Estate Specialist

What an honor it was to be invited to participate in a Legislative Summit sponsored by the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce at the California State Capitol in Sacramento. It’s 3rd annual event, held on June 20, 2012, was effectively a pro-business lobby day where five small groups, each with four business leaders, descended upon the offices of more than 50 California State Senators and members of the State Assembly. The purpose of these meetings was to offer support in terms of pro-business legislation that is currently being circulated in the State Capitol of Sacramento.

As a Sacramento commercial real estate broker, one bill of particular interest to me was SB 1186, involving frivolous lawsuits pertaining to non-ADA compliant commercial real estate properties and buildings. Many commercial real estate owners and small business owners throughout Sacramento and California are no doubt familiar with stories, or even personal experiences, involving written demands for either timely compliance with ADA requirements or a cash settlement to make the complaint simply go away.

Don’t get me wrong. ADA compliance is an important necessity that provides the ability for disabled persons to access commercial real estate buildings and multifamily apartments throughout Sacramento and our great State of California. However, there should be an appropriate balance that doesn’t harm small businesses or property owners to the extent of having to close or curtail operations due to the high cost of complying with necessary ADA improvements. 

SB 1186, co-authored by California State Senate President Pro Tem, Darrel Steinberg, seeks to eliminate the abusive profiting that has occurred from frivolous lawsuits involving opportunistic plaintiffs looking to earn a quick buck. Upon ratification of this bill, legitimate requests for ADA compliance would still be warranted; however, business or commercial real estate owners throughout Sacramento and California could rest assured knowing they would no longer be deliberate targets for illegitimate purposes.

On May 29, 2012, SB 1186 passed the California State Senate with a unanimous vote of 36 to 0. Two weeks later, on June 14, 2012, the bill was referred to the Committee on Judiciary, before it moves on to the Assembly, where it could be voted on as early as August of this year. According to various legislators I spoke with at the State Capitol, these kinds of bills have been attempted before and failed because they lost their teeth before getting through the legislative process. Let’s just hope for the benefit of Sacramento Commercial Real Estate property owners and small business owners this time is different.

Article contributed by Brian Jacks, a Sacramento commercial real estate broker (since 1996), specializing in commercial leasing and investment sale transactions for retail, shopping centers, multifamily, apartments, senior housing, office, industrial, mixed-use, and special purpose properties.

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Brian Jacks

  • Tony Sheppard

    “However, there should be an appropriate balance that doesn’t harm small businesses or property owners to the extent of having to close or curtail operations due to the high cost of complying with necessary ADA improvements.”

    That’s supposed to be the meaning of “reasonable” in “reasonable accommodation.”

  • bye bye Sacpress

    This bill has already lost its teeth as Darrell Steinberg continues to protect small group of his ADA extortionist lawyer buddies. These extortionists use a quirk in California’s implementation of Federal ADA law, and specifically go after small businesses who they know are easier to intimidate. The drive-by ADA extortion trade has gotten so bad Diane Fienstien is threatening federal intervention if our legislature doesn’t fix the situation.

    http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2012/04/08/feinstein-wants-california-legislators-to-curb-abusive-lawsuits-over-ada/

    Darrell Steinberg hasn’t done jack-squat to remedy this situation over his 14 year legislative career. In that time hundreds of California businesses have been forced to pay $4000 to serial litigants, whether they had a ADA compliance issue or not. Don’t expect much from Darrell this time either as the weak provisions to protect business owners have already been gutted from SB1186 since the last vote.

    You can track the bills progress here. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_1186&sess=CUR&house=B&author=steinberg

  • Craig Powell

    The ADA extortion racket in California actually reduces ADA compliance. The sleazy lawyers who issue extorniate demand letters just pocket the extortion money they extract from small businesses and couldn’t care less whether the ADA violations are ever fixed. Adopting a 60-day right-to-cure rule before litigation can be commenced will: (1) end the ADA extortion racket that us preying on small businesses; and (2) incentive business owners to actually fix the ADA violations rather than paying sleazy lawyers unearned quickie settlements.

    Steinberg should be ashamed of himself for protecting the small number of cynical, sleazeball lawyers who ply this job-killing trade.

  • bye bye Sacpress

    Apparently protecting small businesses from the ADA extortion racket doesn’t merit a place on Darrell Steinberg’s top 5 list.

    Sacramento, why do you keep re-electing this guy?

    http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/07/am-alert-five-significant-things-on-california-capitol-agenda.html

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