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An open letter to businesses and parking lot striping companies:

It is once again summertime in Montana and for many businesses that means it's time to reseal and/or restripe their parking lots. Before taking on this task, however, there is one very important aspect of this process that I feel the need to bring to the attention of business owners — ensuring that accessible parking spaces meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and are usable by people with disabilities.

Specifically, “When a business or State or local government restripes parking spaces in a parking lot or parking structure (parking facilities), it must provide accessible parking spaces as required by the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design (2010 Standards)” (ADA Compliance Brief: Restriping Parking Spaces, US Department of Justice, 2015). Restriping a parking lot is considered an alteration and when doing so, accessible spaces must be brought into compliance with current accessibility standards.

Businesses or privately owned facilities that provide goods or services to the public have a continuing ADA obligation to remove barriers to access in existing parking lots when it is readily achievable to do so. When a place of public accommodation or commercial facility restripes a parking lot, it must provide accessible parking spaces as required by the most current ADA Standards for Accessible Design. Because restriping is relatively inexpensive, it is readily achievable in most cases to bring striping and signage requirements for accessible parking into compliance with current standards at the same time.

In Missoula city limits, restriping or resealing your parking lot also means that you need to get a permit from the city and submit plans for how you will bring your business's accessible parking into compliance if it is not already. Missoula city ordinance 12.22.095 explains the requirements for applying for a permit whenever you are planning to undertake activities such as restriping or resealing and ordinance 12.22.060 provides easy access to parking facility design requirements. If your business is simply resealing or restriping your parking lot, there is no fee associated with the permit.

Getting a permit is important because if work without a permit is discovered or if an entity fails to comply with signage and pavement marking requirements for accessible parking or any other applicable standards, the property owner will be notified by Certified U.S. Mail of non-compliance and will be allowed up to 60 days to correct the deficiency; failure to do so shall result in fines, per MMC 1.20.010.

All too often some businesses are still failing, even 29 years after the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, to provide appropriately designed accessible parking spaces. This failure to bring parking lots into compliance with accessibility standards means that many patrons who require the use of accessible parking simply will not be able to access your business and instead, will choose to shop elsewhere. Remember, good access is good business.

For further guidance on the accessibility requirements of parking lots, please contact Summit Independent Living (www.summitilc.org).

When restriping/resealing your parking lot(s), please do the right, and lawful, thing and make sure you provide accessible parking spaces that are in compliance with current accessibility requirements.

Thank you.

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Travis Hoffman is the advocacy coordinator for Summit Independent Living in Missoula. 

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