Wheelchair user sues over ‘self-park’ policy

Between 1993 and 2004, Mimi Greenberg was a renter — andlater an owner — at the 196-unit Los Feliz Towers condominium complex. She isdisabled, suffering from problems with mobility, fatigue, short-term memoryloss, and loss of bladder control.

Greenberg uses a motorized scooter because she fatigueseasily, causing her to stumble and fall. Los Feliz Towers does not have anyparking spaces reserved for handicapped residents and guests.

Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.

Although Greenberg owned a deeded garage space, she wasunable to use it with her handicapped-equipped van lift. The Los Feliz”parking policy” for disabled residents requires the individual toask the security guard to retrieve the owner’s vehicle for pick up in front ofthe building after 15 to 30 minutes. Upon returning, the security guard parksthe handicapped resident’s vehicle.

After she purchased her handicapped-equipped van, Greenbergrequested an accessible parking space, either the manager’s space or any ofthree suitable visitor spaces so she could “self-park.”

She felt the “parking policy” diminished herindependence because of the delays obtaining her van. Also, Greenbergoccasionally experienced loss of bladder control while driving and felthumiliated having to hand her keys to the security guard after she had”wet the seat.”

When Greenberg requested an assigned handicapped parkingspace, the Los Feliz homeowner’s association board of directors rejected herrequest. But the board offered to bring her car every morning to one of theguest spaces in front of the building where it would remain accessible toGreenberg all day.

In 2004, Greenberg moved out of Los Feliz Towers because ofthe parking situation. She rented her condo to a tenant. Greenberg filed thislawsuit, with the help of a housing advocacy group, for housing discriminationbased on the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), federal Americans withDisabilities Act, and state laws prohibiting discrimination.

If you were the judge would you rule the condominiumhomeowner’s association must make a “reasonable accommodation” forGreenberg and other handicapped persons?

The judge said yes!

The federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the judgebegan, does not apply to this situation because this is a private property andnot a place of “public accommodation,” such as a hotel or a businessopen to the public.

However, the condominium association is clearly a”business establishment” under state and federal laws, which prohibithousing discrimination, he continued. As Greenberg is not the only handicappedresident at Los Feliz Towers, the judge noted, it might not be feasible or evennecessary to assign specific handicapped parking spaces.

But an adequate number of handicapped-designated parkingspaces should be made available for residents and guests, or a suitablearrangement such as the current “parking policy,” to prevent housingdiscrimination against the handicapped, the judge emphasized. The board istherefore ordered to provide adequate parking arrangements for its handicappedresidents and visitors, the judge ruled.

Based on the 2006 U.S. District Court decision in SouthernCalifornia Housing Rights Center v. Los Feliz Towers, 426 Fed.Supp.2d 1061.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
Real Estate Center
).

Copyright 2006 Inman News

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