Overview

The Division of the State Architect (DSA) promulgates CBC provisions to address accessibility for persons with disabilities. These provisions are applicable to State and local government buildings and facilities, privately owned public accommodations and commercial facilities, and public housing.

The following materials are provided as a courtesy. The building official overseeing plan review and approval is the one to consult when there are questions regarding compliance with the building code.

The annually-updated figure that triggers the requirement for construction-related accessibility measures on the project. Applies to all commercial construction in California.

In accordance with the 2016 California Building Code Chapter 2 definition of VALUATION THRESHOLD, the 2019 valuation threshold is $166,157.00 and will be updated again in January 2020.

The annual valuation threshold is based on the January 1981 threshold of $50,000 as adjusted using the ENR 20 Cities Construction Cost Index, and as published by Engineering News-Record, McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, for January of each year.

VALUATION THRESHOLD FOR RECENT YEARS:

Year ENR Construction Valuation

2019

11205.74

$166,157.00

2018

10878.01

$161,298.00

2017

10531.68

$ 156,162.00

2016

10132.55

$ 150,244.00

2015

9971.96

$ 147,863.00

2014

9664.45

$ 143,303.00

2013

9437.27

$ 139,934.00

2012

9175.94

$ 136,060.00

2011

8938.30

$ 132,536.28

2010

8660.08

$ 128,410.86

2009

8549.06

$ 126,764.66

2008

8090.06

$ 119,958.65

2007

7879.58

$ 116,837.68

2006

7660.29

$ 113,586.07

2005

7297.24

$ 108,202.79

2004

6824.90

$ 101,198.98

2003

6580.54

$ 97,575.63

2002

6461.81

$ 95,815.11

2001

6280.85

$ 93,131.86

2000

6130.36

$ 90,900.40

CURRENT 2019 ACCESS COMPLIANCE ADVISORY MANUAL

This document contains the 2019 California Building Code (CBC) accessibility provisions adopted by DSA and commentary on selected requirements. Commentary is included from the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and from DSA for provisions unique to California. Additionally, an expanded table of contents for Chapter 11B is provided at the beginning of the chapter.

CURRENT 2016 ACCESS COMPLIANCE ADVISORY MANUAL

The 2016 Code Access Compliance Advisory Manual is revised to include the Intervening Code Adoption Cycle Supplement published on January 1, 2018, effective July 1, 2018.

This document identifies the section number and title for each section and top-level sub-section in Chapter 11B.

This document contains the 2016 California Building Code (CBC) accessibility provisions adopted by DSA and commentary on selected requirements. Commentary is included from the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and from DSA for provisions unique to California. Additionally, an expanded table of contents for Chapter 11B is provided at the beginning of the chapter.

CURRENT 2010 thru 2013 ACCESS COMPLIANCE ADVISORY MANUAL

The 2010 thru 2013 CBC Cross Reference Matrix is not updated, but is archived along with the 2013 Code Access Compliance Advisory Manual Expanded Table of Contents for Chapter 11B and the 2013 Code Access Compliance Advisory Manual and will remain available on the DSA website.

What is "accessibility"?

"Accessibility" is the combination of various elements in a building or area which allows access, circulation, and the full use of the building and facilities by persons with disabilities.

What is the difference between "accessibility" and "universal design"?

"Universal design" is a broader, more comprehensive "design-for-all" approach to the development of architecture around human diversity. It recognizes the changing diversity of needs important to all types of people regardless of their varying age, ability, or condition, during an entire life. By comparison, "accessibility" has traditionally focused on addressing the needs of a few people with separate circumstances from those of the public at large, when in fact almost everyone is, over the course of their lifetime, quite able to benefit from barrier-free design, user-friendly architecture, and comfortable environments.

What is the purpose of the California accessibility requirements?

It is the intent of the California Legislature that the building standards published in the California Building Standards Code (Title 24) relating to accessibility by people with disabilities shall be used as minimum requirements to ensure that buildings, structures, and related facilities are accessible to, and functional for, every member of the public, so as to provide equal opportunity to access public accommodations. Access is to be provided to, through, and within the buildings, without loss of function, space, or facility where the general public is concerned.

Why are the California Building Standards Code (Title 24) requirements more stringent than the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements?

The regulations in California were developed by the Division of the State Architect, Access Compliance, eight years before the United States Congress passed the ADA. The current California Building Standards Code was written to provide a single code which would meet all of the most stringent requirements of the original California Building Standards Code, as well as the 1991 Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines.

Who is the building official?

The "building official" is the officer or other designated authority charged with the administration and enforcement of this code, or the building official's duly authorized representative in accordance with state law. Local cities and counties have building officials who regulate construction in their jurisdiction. State funded construction on state property is often regulated by a state agency, such as the Division of the State Architect. Sometimes public construction has more than one building official — each has separate jurisdictional oversight responsibilities.

Can I get a waiver from the access requirements?

The California Building Standards Code says that you must get a final determination from the local building official that your project has an unreasonable hardship. This is rarely granted for new construction. Existing buildings undergoing alteration are sometimes allowed to depart from the literal requirements of the building code only when equivalent facilitation is provided.

What is "equivalent facilitation"?

"Equivalent facilitation" is an alternate means of complying with the literal requirements of these standards and specifications that provides access in terms of the purpose of these standards and specifications. In determining equivalent facilitation, consideration shall be given to means that provide for the maximum independence of persons with disabilities while presenting the least risk of harm, injury, or other hazard to such persons or others.

Can DSA help me settle a dispute I am having with my local building inspector who says I must provide access to my restaurant?

No, because DSA is a separate jurisdiction. By law, only the local building authority can make a final determination as to code enforcement issues.

Do point-of-sale transaction counters require a lower check writing surface for people who use wheelchairs?

On state funded projects under DSA jurisdiction, DSA approves projects that provide a lower transaction counter which is minimally 36 inches in width and no more than 34 inches high above the finished floor. If your project is under a local jurisdiction, check with the local building official to see if the same enforcement policy is utilized.

Do all the living units in an apartment building need to be accessible?

Accessibility is required to all covered multifamily dwellings on the lowest floor in buildings without elevators. Certain exceptions apply to multistory units, or smaller buildings such as single or duplex units. In covered multifamily dwellings in buildings with elevators, all units are required to be located on an accessible route. Within the units, the requirements are for accessibility are allowed to be for adaptable dwelling units.

What is a "covered multifamily dwelling"?

"Covered multifamily dwellings" are all dwelling units in buildings consisting of three or more privately funded dwelling units if such buildings have one or more elevators; and all ground floor dwelling units in other buildings consisting of three or more dwelling units.

Is an elevator required in "covered multifamily dwellings"?

No, as long as the first dwelling level floor above grade is accessible. Some buildings have parking on the lower floor, and a ramp, wheelchair lift or elevator will be required to provide access to the lowest dwelling level floor above the parking.

What is an "adaptable dwelling unit"?

An "adaptable dwelling unit" is a dwelling unit in a building with a building entrance on an accessible route designed in such a manner that the public and common use areas are readily accessible to and usable by a person with a disability, and all doors are designed sufficiently wide to allow passage into and within all premises by persons who use wheelchairs as required by the building code.

What are the general requirements of the California Building Standards Code accessibility regulations?

Accessibility to buildings or portions of buildings shall be provided for all occupancy classifications except as specifically modified by the building code. Individual occupancy requirements in the code may modify the general requirements for accessibility, but never to the exclusion of them entirely — unless the requirements for an individual occupancy specifically overrides a general requirement. Multistory buildings must provide access by ramp or elevator, with elevator exceptions available for some buildings. Generally, two story office buildings are not required to have elevators, although all other accessible features are still required on upper floors.

Accessibility requirements can be difficult to understand. Can DSA help me determine what I must do in my construction project?

Construction law is quite difficult, and takes experienced professional expertise. The Division of the State Architect functions as a building oversight agency on state-funded construction projects, and can only direct you to general resources at your local building department. If DSA is the jurisdictional authority, our "California Access Compliance Reference Manual" has all of the building code accessibility regulations and policies used on projects under DSA approval authority. The Manual is available as a free download as an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) file. The Manual is also available in hardcopy at technical bookstores throughout California.

What privately funded multistory buildings do not require a ramp or elevator?

The following types of privately funded multistory buildings do not require a ramp or elevator above and below the first floor:
Multistoried office buildings (other than the professional office of a health care provider) and passenger vehicle service stations less than three stories high or less than 3,000 square feet (279 m2 ) per story.

Any other privately funded multistoried building that is not a shopping center, shopping mall, or the professional office of a health care provider, and that is less than three stories high or less than 3,000 square feet (279 m2 ) per story if a reasonable portion of all facilities and accommodations normally sought and used by the public in such a building are accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.

Can I have all the accessible seating in the back or front row?

Accessible seating or accommodations in places of public amusement and resort, including theaters, concert halls and stadiums, but not including hotels and motels, shall be provided in a variety of locations so as to provide persons with disabilities a choice of admission prices otherwise available to members of the general public. When there are over 300 seats, dispersal is required, and when there are less, no dispersal is clearly indicated in the code. However, some trial courts have found that lack of dispersal creates a highlighted area — generally considered discriminatory. The building code does mention this, and further changes in the code to clarify this is quite likely.

Does a factory need to be accessible?

Yes, the following areas are required to be accessible:

  1. Major or principal floor areas shall be made accessible.
  2. Office areas shall be made accessible.
  3. Sanitary facilities serving these areas shall be made accessible.

What about access to hotels?

Hotels, motels, inns, dormitories, resorts, and similar places of transient lodging shall provide access for persons with disabilities in accordance with the provisions of the accessibility requirements of this California Building Code. Accessible guest rooms or suites shall be dispersed among the various classes of sleeping accommodations to provide a range of options applicable to room sizes, costs, amenities provided, and the number of beds provided.

Must I provide separate accessible toilet facilities?

The California Labor Code requires separate facilities whenever there are more than four employees. Where separate facilities are provided for nondisabled persons of each sex, separate facilities shall be provided for persons with disabilities of each sex also. Where unisex facilities are provided for persons without disabilities, at least one unisex facility shall be provided for persons with disabilities within close proximity to the non-accessible facility.

What accessible routes are required on a site?

When a building, or portion of a building, is required to be accessible or adaptable, an accessible route of travel shall be provided to all portions of the building, to accessible building entrances and between the building and the public way. Except within an individual dwelling unit, an accessible route of travel shall not pass though kitchens, storage rooms, restrooms, closets or other spaces used for similar purposes.

At least one accessible route within the boundary of the site shall be provided from public transportation stops, accessible parking and accessible passenger loading zones, and public streets or sidewalks, to the accessible building entrance they serve. The accessible route shall, to the maximum extent feasible, coincide with the route for the general public. At least one accessible route shall connect accessible buildings, facilities, elements and spaces that are on the same site.

At least one accessible route shall connect accessible building or facility entrances with all accessible spaces and elements and with all accessible dwelling units within the building or facility. An accessible route shall connect at least one accessible entrance of each accessible dwelling unit with those exterior and interior spaces and facilities that serve the accessible dwelling unit.

COMPARISON & INCORPORATION OF THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) WITH THE CALIFORNIA BUILDING STANDARDS CODE

What is ADA Certification of State Accessibility Requirements?

Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) authorizes the United States Department of Justice to certify that state laws, local building codes, or similar ordinances meet or exceed the ADA Standards for Accessible Design for new construction and alterations. Title III applies to public accommodations and commercial facilities, which include most private businesses and non-profit service providers.

Congress, by authorizing the certification of state and local accessibility requirements under Title III, recognized the important role that state and local building codes and standards may play in achieving compliance with the building-related aspects of accessibility. State and local building officials who are involved in plan approval and construction inspection processes may provide important assistance to construction and design professionals through their oversight of the accessibility requirements of a certified state code.

Why is ADA Certification Important?

California Government Code Section 4459(c) indicates that the scope of accessibility regulations in the California Building Standards Code shall not be less than the application and scope of accessibility requirements of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 as adopted by the United States Department of Justice. ADA certification by the Department of Justice provides the most effective, recognized, and legal method for demonstrating that the California Building Code meets or exceeds the ADA requirements.

Voluntary compliance is an important component of an effective strategy for implementing Title III of the ADA. Private businesses that voluntarily comply with ADA accessibility requirements help to promote the broader objectives of the ADA by increasing access for persons with disabilities to the goods, services, and facilities available in our respective communities. Certification facilitates voluntary ADA compliance by assuring that certified state accessibility requirements meet or exceed ADA requirements. In this regard, business owners, builders, developers, architects, and others in the design and construction industry are benefited because, once a code is certified, they can refer to certified code requirements and rely upon them for equivalency with the ADA.

Certification is advantageous for the following reasons:

  1. When an entity is designing, constructing, or altering a building in accordance with an applicable state code that has been certified by the Department of Justice, the designer or contractor will need to consult only that one code, in order to determine the applicable federal and state accessibility requirements.
  2. The covered entity will have some degree of assurance in advance of construction or alteration that the ADA requirements will be met.
  3. In a legal challenge that might be brought under the ADA to facilities constructed in compliance with an ADA certified code, compliance with the certified code constitutes rebuttable evidence of compliance with Title III of the ADA.
  4. A state or local agency enforcing a certified code is for practical, but not legal purposes, facilitating compliance with the ADA and helping to eliminate confusion and possible inconsistencies in standards.
  5. The amount of unnecessary litigation can be reduced, particularly if a state or local code agency has an administrative method of effectively handling complaints concerning violations of its code.

Certification of a state accessibility code also allows business owners, builders, developers, and architects to rely on their state or local plan approval and building inspection processes for assistance with ADA compliance through the implementation of certified accessibility requirements. Should a mistake occur in the design or initial construction phase of a project, the mistake can be identified early through the plan approval and inspection processes and corrected at a time when adjustments can easily be made and the costs for doing so remain low. In this manner, state and local building code officials in jurisdictions with an ADA-certified code can play an important role in checking to determine whether accessibility requirements have been met. Also, jurisdictions that provide accessibility "check points" such as those described above through the implementation of a certified code provide a significant benefit to private industry and an incentive for growth and development.

OVERVIEW OF THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS

The Department of Justice provides technical assistance to jurisdictions that are in the process of adopting or amending their accessibility requirements and would like the Department's views regarding the extent to which the proposed requirements comply with or exceed ADA accessibility requirements. To obtain technical assistance, the jurisdiction submits a written request to the Department along with the proposed accessibility requirements and any appropriate supporting materials (for example, information concerning any model code or statute on which the proposed requirements are based; copies of any statute, standard, or regulation referenced in the proposed requirements; and any relevant manuals, guides, or other interpretive information about the proposed code or about provisions of the proposed code that are carried over from a pre-existing code or requirement). The same Department of Justice staff who review certification requests for finally enacted accessibility requirements will undertake a review of the proposed code for technical assistance purposes only. ADA certification, however, can only be granted for finally enacted codes and requirements that are capable of administration under state law.

Throughout the certification review process, Department of Justice staff provide assistance and guidance to representatives of state and local governments that request certification of their accessibility requirements. Upon receipt of a complete certification submission, a team of experienced staff (architects, accessibility specialists and attorneys) undertake a detailed comparison of the submitted accessibility code to the Title III requirements for the design, construction, and alteration of buildings and facilities, including the ADA Standards for Accessible Design. The staff may contact submitting officials during this process to gain additional information about the correct interpretation and application of the submitted code.

Prior to making a preliminary certification determination, the Department often provides written technical assistance to the submitting jurisdiction. In its technical assistance letter, the Department could point out provisions of the submitted code that raise concerns or questions about equivalency with the ADA, and may suggest possible changes or revisions to achieve compliance with the ADA. Once a preliminary determination is made that a submitted code meets or exceeds ADA requirements, the submitting jurisdiction is notified, members of the public, including persons with disabilities, are notified, and the public is provided an opportunity to comment. If the preliminary determination of equivalency is sustained, the Department will issue a certification of equivalency.

STATE AND LOCAL CODE ENFORCEMENT EFFORTS

There are thousands of code jurisdictions in the United States that enforce some combination of state building codes. Some, but not all of these include accessibility requirements. Although many are based on a model code, there are major variations among the state codes. Design and construction in accordance with these codes will not constitute compliance with the ADA, unless the codes impose requirements equal to or greater than those of the ADA.

The enforcement of these codes is the responsibility of state or local officials. They usually review building plans and inspect projects at specific intervals during construction to ensure that the construction complies with state law. State and local officials do not have the authority to enforce the ADA on behalf of the Federal government.

Architects, builders, and others involved with design and construction are accustomed to the state and local enforcement system, which lets them know prior to construction whether they need to make changes to their plans in order to achieve code compliance. The ADA relies on the traditional method of case-by-case civil rights enforcement in response to complaints. It does not contemplate federal ADA inspections similar to those done at the state or local level. ADA certification will help to moderate the effects of these differences in enforcement procedures and standards.

CERTIFICATION OF THE CALIFORNIA BUILDING CODE

In 2002, the Department of General Services, Division of the State Architect submitted the 2001 edition of the California Building Code along with a side-by-side analysis of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design to the United States Department of Justice. The side-by-side analysis contained proposed revisions and additions to California Building Code regulations that were considered necessary in order to establish equivalency with the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

In October 2004, the Division of the State Architect received from the United States Department of Justice, an initial response to the request for certification that the California Building Code meets or exceeds the new construction and alterations requirements of Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the United States Department of Justice's regulation implementing Title III, including the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

THE INITIAL RESPONSE FROM THE UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (October 1, 2004)

The links below provide public access to the initial response from the United States Department of Justice regarding the ADA certification of California Building Code. The response includes a cover letter, side-by-side analysis, and three attachments.

It should be understood that the initial response from the Department of Justice is preliminary. The process for ADA certification will undoubtedly take time; include public participation meetings, interaction with the United States Department of Justice, and rulemaking for building standards. It should therefore be assumed that the side-by-side analysis, including comment from the Department of Justice, is subject to revision. These documents are preliminary, are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be considered as final determinations by the United States Department of Justice and/or the Division of the State Architect.

DSA developed accessibility standards for electric vehicle charging stations (EVCS) in order to ensure accessibility to electric vehicle charging stations by individuals with disabilities, and to provide guidance to station developers, building owners, and local building departments.

The California Building Standards Commission adopted the accessibility standards for electric vehicle charging stations as part of the 2016 California Building Code (California Code of Regulations, Title 24), which became effective on January 1, 2017.

EVCS RESOURCES

The fact sheet linked below provides a brief overview of the requirements. For full scoping and technical requirements of the building standards for electric vehicle charging stations, please refer to the full text of the California Building Code regulations at Building Standards Commission (Part 2, Volume 1). The building code amendments include provisions in Chapter 2 (Definitions) and Chapter 11B (Accessibility to Public Buildings, Public Accommodations, Commercial Buildings and Public Housing).

The presentation linked below is intended to provide an overview of the requirements to plan for and provide accessibility to electric vehicle charging stations in California. The full scoping and technical requirements of the California Building Code regulations for electric vehicle charging stations should be reviewed and applied in the design and construction of electric vehicle charging stations. The full text of the California Building Code regulations can be viewed at Building Standards Commission (Part 2, Volume 1). The building code amendments include provisions in Chapter 2 (Definitions) and Chapter 11B (Accessibility to Public Buildings, Public Accommodations, Commercial Buildings and Public Housing).

ACCESS CALIFORNIA – NEW ACCESSIBILITY REGULATIONS for ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING STATIONS VIDEO

The Access California presentation is also available in the formats listed below:

DSA's EVCS Accessibility FAQs are part of DSA’s ongoing effort to promote consistency in the design and construction of projects.

The questions and answers below are presented as received by DSA or as composites of related questions.

It is important to note that the remarks in this document are intended to be informative but they are not a substitute for the requirements of the California Building Code. Also, despite the informative nature of this document, it is the appropriate jurisdictional code official who possesses the exclusive authority to enforce and interpret the requirements of the California Building Code. This document provides informal assistance regarding California accessibility requirements only for DSA's code-enforcement jurisdiction. The information contained in this document is not binding on the Division of the State Architect and is not intended or designed to give any legal advice on compliance with federal, state, or local laws and regulations. It should be noted that laws, regulations, and standards are subject to revisions, additions, or deletions, at any time.

ABBREVIATIONS

The following abbreviations are used in this document:

  • ADA:         Americans with Disabilities Act
  • CBC:         California Building Code
  • DCFC:      DC Fast Charge
  • DSA:         Division of the State Architect
  • EV:            Electric Vehicle
  • EVCS:       EV Charging Station
  • EVSE:       EV Service Equipment

Note: This FAQ addresses EVCS installed at public buildings, public accommodations, commercial facilities and public housing. EVCS installed at privately-owned multifamily housing facilities may also have requirements for accessible EVCS dependent on use; please consult with the Department of Housing and Community Development for requirements.

GENERAL QUESTIONS

At what types of property/sites must the ADA requirements be met?

EVCS installed at public buildings, public accommodations, commercial facilities and public housing are required to comply with the accessibility requirements in CBC Chapter 11B. Also, under the American with Disabilities Act there is a general obligation to provide accessible EVCS; however, specific requirements for EVCS have not been adopted in the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

What types of exemptions or exceptions exist?

EVCS installed at public buildings, public accommodations, commercial facilities and public housing are required to comply with the accessibility requirements in CBC Chapter 11B. Compliance with these provisions is not required where EVCS are not available to the general public and intended for use by a designated vehicle or driver (see CBC Section 11B-228.3.2 Exception 1).

Does the state architect intend to provide further statewide guidance or will implementation remain a more regional/local decision?

The Division of the State Architect will continue its outreach efforts to inform the public about the new accessibility requirements for EVCS. However, the requirements in the CBC are enforced by various code enforcement officials, including city and county building departments, within their respective jurisdictions.

Are multi-unit dwellings of any kind covered under the requirements? Our thinking stemmed from the fact that it covers public housing, but how is public housing defined? For example, is section 8 housing applicable? Are all condos and apartments applicable if they are providing charging for any of their residents and not just a specific resident?

Privately owned multi-family dwellings are not subject to the new CBC Chapter 11B accessibility requirements for EVCS. The new requirements do apply at public housing facilities which are defined below. CBC Chapter 11B accessibility requirements do not apply to Section 8 housing credit recipients – the Section 8 program is a housing voucher program, not a public housing program.

PUBLIC HOUSING

Housing facilities owned, operated, or constructed by, for or on behalf of a public entity including but not limited to the following:

  1. Publically owned and/or operated one- or two-family dwelling units or congregate residences;
  2. Publically owned and/or operated buildings or complexes with three or more residential dwelling units;
  3. Reserved.
  4. Publically owned and/or operated homeless shelters, group homes and similar social service establishments;
  5. Publically owned and/or operated transient lodging, such as hotels, motels, hostels and other facilities providing accommodations of a short term nature of not more than 30 days duration;
  6. Housing at a place of education owned or operated by a public entity, such as housing on or serving a public school, public college or public university campus;
  7. Privately owned housing made available for public use as housing.

ACCESSIBLE ROUTE & PATH OF TRAVEL QUESTIONS

Are the elements of path of travel and accessible routes substantively the same (such as slope, vertical clearance, width of path of travel, etc.)?

The terms ACCESSIBLE ROUTE and PATH OF TRAVEL are distinct but related.

Accessible route is a fundamental term used to describe, “A continuous unobstructed path connecting accessible elements and spaces of an accessible site, building or facility that can be negotiated by a person with a disability using a wheelchair, and that is also safe for and usable by persons with other disabilities…” In short, we can think of it as the ground surface which allows travel by wheelchair. The technical requirements are in CBC Chapter 11B Divisions 3 (Building Blocks) and 4 (Accessible Route). EVCS required by CBC Chapter 11B to be accessible must have an accessible route to the facility entrance (see CBC Section 11B-812.5.1) and an accessible route from the vehicle space to the EVSE (see CBC Section 11B-812.5.2). No exceptions are provided but you can use existing accessible routes to help satisfy these requirements.

Path of travel is a term exclusively used in CBC Chapter 11B within the context of alterations to existing sites (see Section 11B-202.4, including Exception 10). For EVCS projects it only applies where EVCS are installed at existing facilities where vehicle fueling, recharging, parking or storage is a primary function. These types of facilities include gas stations, stand-alone parking lots and stand-alone parking structures (see Section 11B-202.4 Exception 10). When an accessible path of travel is required, an accessible path of travel to the specific area of alteration shall be provided; this path of travel, by definition in Chapter 2 of the CBC, includes a primary entrance to the building or facility, toilet and bathing facilities serving the area of alteration, drinking fountains serving the area of alteration, public telephones serving the area of alteration, and signs as well as accessible routes which connect the area of alteration with site arrival points such as sidewalks, streets, and accessible parking (see CBC Section 11B-202.4). These listed elements – primary entrance, toilet and bathing facilities, drinking fountains, public telephones, signs and site arrival points as well as accessible routes connecting all of them – are sometimes called “path of travel elements.” These elements are required to comply with the current code requirements or be brought into compliance when an alteration occurs. Compliance is required to the maximum extent feasible without exceeding 20 percent of the cost of the work directly associated with the installation of EVCS (see Section 11B-202.4 Exception 10).

When do path of travel and/or accessible routes apply? …new construction? …alterations to a parking area? …alterations to a building associated with parking, such as expansion or remodel?

In each case EVCS required to be accessible must have an accessible route to the facility entrance (see CBC Section 11B-812.5.1) and an accessible route from the vehicle space to the EVSE (see CBC Section 11B-812.5.2).

In the new construction of a new facility, all accessible rooms and spaces are required to be connected by an accessible route and all toilet facilities, drinking fountains, public telephones and signs are subject to accessibility requirements. These fundamental requirements provide accessibility in excess of that required for alterations to existing facilities so the regulations associated with path of travel requirements are not applicable to new facilities.

In general, when alterations are made to existing buildings or facilities, an accessible path of travel to the specific area of alteration shall be provided; this path of travel includes a primary entrance to the building or facility, toilet and bathing facilities serving the area of alteration, drinking fountains serving the area of alteration, public telephones serving the area of alteration, and signs as well as accessible routes which connect the area of alteration with site arrival points such as sidewalks, streets, and accessible parking (see CBC Section 11B-202.4). In general, these listed elements, if provided on the site, are required to comply with the current code requirements or be brought into compliance when an alteration occurs. In the context of EVCS, this scheme will apply when EVCS are installed at existing facilities where vehicle fueling, recharging, parking or storage is a primary function. These types of facilities include gas stations, stand-alone parking lots and stand-alone parking structures. Compliance is required to the maximum extent feasible without exceeding 20 percent of the cost of the work directly associated with the installation of EVCS (see Section 11B-202.4 Exception 10).

Where EVCS are installed at facilities where vehicle fueling, recharging, parking or storage is NOT a primary function, compliance with Section 11B-202.4 is NOT required (see Section 11B-202.4 Exception 10). These types of facilities include shopping centers, individual stores and office buildings. While parking is frequently provided at these types of facilities, parking is not the primary function – shopping or conducting business is the primary function at these facilities.

There is some confusion about whether the “accessible path” that is required means there must be an accessible path from the EVSE (charger) to the facility/building at which the station is installed, or whether the accessible path is just from the parking spot to the EVSE (charger). If the prior is enforced, it could increase the costs of installing EVSE in some instances. What is the correct interpretation of “accessible path”?

The term used in the CBC is “accessible route.” EVCS required by CBC Chapter 11B to be accessible must have both, an accessible route to the facility entrance (see CBC Section 11B-812.5.1) and an accessible route from the vehicle space to the EVSE (see CBC Section 11B-812.5.2).

What occupancies are or are not subject to path of travel and/or accessible routes? …buildings subject to California Building Code (CBC) Chapter 11B? …multi-family buildings subject to CBC Chapter 11A? … others?

Buildings and facilities required to comply with Chapter 11B, including public housing facilities, are required to comply with the CBC Chapter 11B accessibility provisions for EVCS. This includes the accessible route requirements for installation of EVCS. In addition, an accessible path of travel is required where EVCS are installed at existing facilities where vehicle fueling, recharging, parking or storage is a primary function. These types of facilities include gas stations, stand-alone parking lots and stand-alone parking structures. Compliance with path of travel requirements is required to the maximum extent feasible without exceeding 20 percent of the cost of the work directly associated with the installation of EVCS (see Section 11B-202.4 Exception 10).

See note on page 1 of this FAQ for privately-owned multifamily housing facilities subject to CBC Chapter 11A, and under the regulatory authority of the Department of Housing and Community Development.

If a property owner hits the 20% cost cap on path of travel improvements when installing charging stations, are there any other accessibility site retrofits that would still be required?

EVCS required to be accessible by CBC Chapter 11B must have both, an accessible route to the facility entrance (see CBC Section 11B-812.5.1) and an accessible route from the vehicle space to the EVSE (see CBC Section 11B-812.5.2). No exceptions are provided but you can use existing accessible routes to help satisfy these requirements. These requirements are separate from, and are not limited by the 20% cost cap on path of travel improvements.

When a property owner hits the 20% cost limitation on path of travel improvements, the jurisdictional entity cannot require further improvements to the path of travel to occur. The property owner should be advised, however, that for older facilities that pre-date the ADA, barrier removal is required by the ADA. Barrier removal, however, will not be enforced by the local jurisdictional entity.

SCOPING QUESTIONS

Can a single EV charger service two EV Accessible spots or does each spot have to have its own charger?

A single multiport EV charger that can simultaneously charge two vehicles can be used to serve two EV spaces required to be accessible. An EV charger that can only charge one vehicle at a time cannot be used to serve two EV spaces required to be accessible. (see CBC Chapter 2 definition of “Electric Vehicle Charging Station”)

How can we address locations that do not have excess parking spaces and currently, cannot pass through plan check because the code says it’s now a “charging space” not a “parking space”?

With the current requirements, you need more Van Accessible and ADA reserved parking spaces than required under code with the combination of EV charging and standard spaces. It puts an impossible burden on small parking lots in Irvine and San Diego which are strictly enforcing the interpretation of charging spaces.

All work is required to comply with the applicable codes, standards and ordinances. Parking ordinances are typically adopted within each city and county in California. Consistent with the state’s policies on electric vehicles, DSA encourages city and county officials to recognize the necessary impact of EVCS and adopt responsive ordinances consistent with the local needs.

Can you upgrade/expand an existing location without adhering to ADA standards?

No. To the extent that EVCS are a public accommodation or commercial facility they are covered by the federal law of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The new accessibility requirements in the CBC are intended to provide full compliance with the requirements of the ADA. Compliance will help property owners meet their legal obligations under the ADA and avoid costly legal actions.

Many properties do NOT have enough electricity available to support significant charging installations, so for now, utilities and others are doing “make ready” spaces (upgrading the supporting infrastructure in a parking space for future use without adding the actual charger). How would make ready spaces comply with the ADA standards? Additionally, consider a site with 10 make ready spaces. Would the standards apply differently if that site has no chargers presently installed versus having one active charger installed?

The CBC definition for Electric Vehicle Charging Station (EVCS) describes “One or more electric vehicle charging spaces served by an electric vehicle charger or other charging equipment.” Where a vehicle space is not provided with a charger it is not, by definition, an EVCS. CBC Chapter 11B accessibility provisions only apply to vehicle spaces with a charger.

If the entire project consists of 10 vehicle spaces with the infrastructure installed, but without chargers, then CBC Chapter 11B accessibility provisions do not apply.

If the entire project consists of 9 vehicle spaces with the infrastructure installed, but without chargers, and one other vehicle space is provided with a charger, then the CBC Chapter 11B accessibility provisions apply only to the vehicle space with a charger.

It would be prudent for a designer to take into consideration the space requirements necessary for accessible EVCS based on the total projected number of EVCS planned for the site, in addition to future accessible route requirements, so that the future installation of EVCS can be accommodated, but accessibility provisions are not required unless electric vehicle charging equipment is installed.

For a new public building, if EV charging equipment is not installed at this time, what is the extent of the infrastructure that an installer is required to show for plan check review?

Plans and specifications must accurately describe the full extent of the work to be performed. Some enforcement jurisdictions (primarily city- and county building departments) may have additional requirements.

Looking at CalGreen 5.106.5.3, we must provide the conduits and panel capacity for future installation for the required number of spaces (2 in this case). However, it is only when the equipment is to be installed that we need to refer to CBC and CEC. Section 11B-228.3.1 also reiterates this. Therefore, we would show the location of the conduit stub outs adjacent to 2 current parking spaces and would show space on the electric panel for the future equipment – and that is all. At this time, we do not need to show the requirements for EV accessibility when equipment is installed per Chapter 11B. Is my interpretation correct?

CBC Chapter 11B accessibility provisions for EVCS apply when a project consists of one or more electric vehicle charging spaces served by an electric vehicle charger or other charging equipment. Where the project does not provide charging equipment the code does not require the provision of accessible routes or other vehicle space accessibility requirements. However, it is good practice to notify the owner or owner’s representative of any additional code requirements that will be triggered by the later installation of charging equipment. The owner can use this information to determine the sequence and extent of work to be included in each phase of the project.

All work is required to comply with the applicable codes and standards. Plans and specifications must accurately describe the full extent of the work to be performed. Some enforcement jurisdictions (primarily city- and county building departments) may have additional requirements.

We are also being asked to show the future space for the 1 Van accessible EV space that would be required in the future, if the equipment was installed. And due to the requirement for the access aisle beside this space, in the future it would be converted to an access aisle resulting in the loss of one parking space. As this project is right at the required number of parking spaces per zoning, it is not acceptable to the zoning reviewer to sign off on a plan that shows a “future access aisle for future EV van accessible charging space,” as they are approving the loss of a parking space, even though this would not happen until a future condition, upon which I assume there would be some review process for installation of EV charging equipment. What is the appropriate path forward in this situation?

All work is required to comply with the applicable codes, standards and ordinances. Parking ordinances are typically adopted within each city and county in California. Consistent with the state’s policies on electric vehicles, DSA encourages city and county officials to recognize the necessary impact of EVCS and adopt responsive ordinances consistent with the local needs.

On existing locations when we add an EV station as van accessible how do we address taking two spaces from the facility (losing a space) and then not having the mandatory spaces remaining for the facility?

All work is required to comply with the applicable codes, standards and ordinances. Parking ordinances are typically adopted within each city and county in California. Consistent with the state’s policies on electric vehicles, DSA encourages city and county officials to recognize the necessary impact of EVCS and adopt responsive ordinances consistent with the local needs.

I fully support ADA requirements and the DGS' efforts. We are reconstructing a 325 space parking lot. 8% will be EVSE ready. 32 EVSE will be installed initially. Including EVSE required ADA spaces, new plan results in 322 spaces. Parking facility no longer complies with minimum parking requirements for facilities. Any suggestions for resolving this conflict for reworking of existing sites subject to CALGreen?

Parking ordinances are typically adopted within each city and county in California and enforced by local planning department personnel. You could consider requesting a variance from full compliance with the parking requirements substantiated by the benefits of electrical vehicle use which relies on installed infrastructure.

There does not seem to be a distinction between different EVCS standards (Level 1, Level 2, DC CHAdeMO, DC CCS, and Tesla). Does the schedule defined in Table 11B-228.3.2.1 make a distinction between the different types of EVSE standards or are that all considered to equivalently be an EVCS?

The CBC Chapter 11B accessibility requirements for EVCS do not distinguish between the different EVCS standards like those listed. However, building officials may view different types of service as separate facilities. Where different types of EVCS service are provided at a location, the code enforcement official must determine the applicability of Table 11B-228.3.2.1.

When developing the CBC Chapter 11B accessibility provisions for EVCS, it was DSA’s intent to provide a reasonable portion of all EVCS facilities as accessible to and usable by persons with disabilities.

We often see projects of gas station replacing old fuel dispensers with access compliance fuel dispensers (reach range, operable parts, point-of-sale). According to Section 11B-202.4, Exception 10, these projects would be required to comply with accessibility for primary accessible path to inside the convenient store at the gas station, public restrooms, drinking fountains, public telephones, and signs (with 20-percent limit of adjusted construction cost). Is my understanding correct regarding the replacement of old/addition of new fuel dispensers?

Exception 10 to Section 11B-202.4 is only applicable to the installation of EVCS – the exception does not apply to gasoline filling equipment. However, Section 11B-202.4 Exception 8 may be used when replacing gasoline fuel dispenser.

Is DSA aware of existing precedents (potentially from past experience with non-EV accessible parking) to address the factors that would be considered to determine whether compliance with EV accessibility rules would be technically infeasible?

A request for technical infeasibility is made to and determined by the local jurisdiction. A request for technical infeasibility is site-specific; therefore, there are no general factors that could be considered to determine whether compliance with EVCS regulations is technically infeasible.

TECHNICAL QUESTIONS

For small parking lots, is there any variance on being able to share EV charging with the existing accessible parking spaces?

The accessibility provisions in CBC Chapter 11B do not permit a required accessible EVCS to be installed in a required accessible parking space. Section 11B-208.1 notes, “For the purposes of this section, electric vehicle charging stations are not parking spaces…”

Can you put an EV charger in an existing accessible parking space instead of doing costly upgrades?

The accessibility provisions in CBC Chapter 11B do not permit a required accessible EVCS to be installed in a required accessible parking space. Section 11B-208.1 notes, “For the purposes of this section, electric vehicle charging stations are not parking spaces…”

Currently, the DCFC time limit is 30 minutes maximum. New larger battery capacity will take longer to get 80% charge – i.e. Chevy Bolt EV, Tesla Model 3, 2018 Nissan LEAF, etc. Can we reconsider the time limit?

The 30 minute time limit applies to drive-up EVCS of any type. This design option allows brief charging and queuing for charging service, and does not consider that batteries will be charged to full capacity. Where DCFC or any other type of charging is intended for use longer than 30 minutes, EVCS may be provided in regular parking-style vehicle spaces.

CAL Green requires x number of EVSE per xxx number of spaces - each on its own 40 amp circuit. Some dual EVSE are on a single 40 amp circuit and split the 40 amp. Does this mean that half of those plugs don't comply with the required number?

The California Green Code appears to require service panels, sub-panels, and raceway of sufficient capacity to accommodate 40 amp circuits rather than mandating one 40 amp circuit for each EVCS in residential and nonresidential locations. For additional information you may contact the Department of Housing and Community Development for infrastructure requirements at residential locations or the Building Standards Commission for infrastructure requirements at nonresidential locations

Can you provide recommended signage for ADA accessible spaces?

Required identification signs for accessible EVCS vehicle spaces are indicated in CBC Chapter 11B Section 11B-812.8 and required vehicle space surface markings are indicated in Section 11B-812.9. Other courtesy messages may be provided but are not required by CBC Chapter 11B.

For projects within the public rights-of-way, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has several signs for EV charging in its California Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. For the appropriate use of these signs you may contact Caltrans.

What are the auditory/braille requirements for EVCS units with a touch screen?

Accessibility requirements for all point-of-sale devices have been a part of the CBC for many years and allow people with vision impairments to conduct automated transactions in a secure manner. These requirements apply to point-of-sale devices in public buildings, public accommodations commercial buildings and public housing, including restaurants, stores, banks, theaters and DVD rental kiosks – just about anywhere the public conducts automated transactions.

The new CBC accessibility requirements for EVCS specifically identify that each EVCS, whether or not accessible, provided with a point-of-sale device must provide a tactilely discernable numerical keypad, like a push-button telephone keypad or some other technology such as RFID, biometric fingerprint or other mechanism that allows access and privacy (see CBC Section 11B-707.9.1).

Where EVCS are provided with a touch screen but without point-of-sale devices, neither the CBC nor the ADA Standards for Accessible Design provide explicit requirements for the touch screen accessibility. However, Title III of the ADA prohibits discrimination against individuals “…on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations of any place of public accommodation…” (see 42 U.S.C. § 12182(a)) Past court cases have indicated that accessibility must be provided at places of public accommodation and governmental programs and services, even in the absence of explicit requirements. Accordingly, DSA advises that designers incorporate touch screen accessibility into their projects.

MISCELLANEOUS QUESTIONS

Can a disabled non-EV driver park in an ADA EVSE spot?

The California Vehicle Code prohibits parking a vehicle in an EVCS. Vehicles left in EVCS spaces must be connected for charging purposes. DSA understands this applies to accessible EVCS too

Will CALGreen be amended to require that some parking spaces are designed so that they can comply with Chapter 11B requirements when converted to EV charging spaces (i.e. slope, vertical clearance, path of travel)?

DSA is not aware of any efforts to amend the California Green Code in this manner. While the California Green Code nonresidential mandatory measures require projects to identify an EV space, provide an electrical raceway to the service panel, and provide adequate capacity at the service panel for future EVCS; good design practice would be to incorporate appropriate ground surfaces and routes to facilitate the later installation of usable accessible EVCS. Plans and specifications must accurately describe the full extent of the work to be performed. Some enforcement jurisdictions (primarily city- and county building departments) may have additional requirements.

What accessibility requirements apply to EV charger installation outside of California?

To the extent that EVCS are a public accommodation or commercial facility they are covered by the federal law of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Specific technical requirements for EVCS are not specified in the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design. DSA is not familiar with state and municipal accessibility requirements for EVCS outside of California.

Has there been consideration for electric vehicles being parked in valet mode that could share EVSE and meet the equivalent EVSE option?

This could reduce the cost of construction and major electrical upgrades.

Electric vehicles may be parked by a valet just as any other car. CBC Chapter 11B does not contain specific accessibility provisions for situations where the valet service provides EV charging in addition to parking service. Absent specific requirements, this situation would require the building official to determine the extent of applicable accessibility requirements on a case-by-case basis. DSA encourages designers to consult with jurisdictional building officials (primarily city- and county building departments) whenever there is a question of code interpretation or application

It appears that the accessibility standards may result in lots of chargers in ADA spaces not being used or “stranded assets.” Was this issue addressed in development of the standards?

This issue was discussed extensively during development of the CBC Chapter 11B accessibility provisions for EVCS. The requirements were developed to provide full compliance with federal and California accessibility law without placing an excessive burden on the property owners.

Vehicle spaces which display the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA), sometimes referred to as the wheelchair symbol, are generally understood to be reserved for the exclusive use of a disabled person displaying special license plates or a distinguishing placard.

It is important to remember that a disability placard or special license plate with an ISA can be issued to a driver or passenger for a disability that does not necessitate the use of a wheelchair or mobility device; therefore it is incorrect to assume that an accessible EVCS will be underutilized, because disability placard holders may have an electric vehicle or may purchase one in the near future.

For EV with the charging port at rear of the vehicle, can EV be assumed to be able to back in the parking space for easy access to the charger at the head location?

This practice is not regulated by the CBC Chapter 11B accessibility provisions. DSA is not aware of any restrictions on this practice

Are the ADA spaces ADA-only? Vans only in Van accessible spaces?

Standard accessible and van accessible EVCS vehicle spaces which display the International Symbol of Accessibility (ISA), sometimes referred to as the wheelchair symbol, are generally understood to be reserved for the exclusive use of a disabled person displaying special license plates or a distinguishing placard.

Van accessible EVCS vehicle spaces which display the ISA are not reserved for vans only. They may be used by a disabled person with a standard vehicle or van displaying special license plates or a distinguishing placard.

What is best way to provide accessible curb-side EVCS (like parallel parking)?

Though the building code does not regulate EVCS in the public right-of-way, accessibility is still required under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Since there are no explicit regulations it will be up to you to provide an accessible solution which is acceptable to the jurisdictional authorities. You may wish to refer to the new CBC Chapter 11B provisions as “guidelines” because they were crafted to address vehicle spaces that are parallel to the vehicular way as well as the more traditional pull-in space. In this case, you would apply the general requirements to curbside locations. Note that an explicit exception is provided in Section 11B-812.10.4 Exception 3.

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