SB1186 and the Marin business community accessibility education program


The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination of individuals with disabilities and requires all facilities used by the public (public accommodations) to be accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Title III of the ADA states that businesses must remove barriers to accessing goods and services that are easily accomplishable and able to be carried out without much difficulty or expense. This requirement is known as “readily achievable barrier removal.” The ADA contains no grandfathering provisions.

If a business is sued for accessibility violations, lawsuit-related expenses and costs usually exceed the construction costs. If a claim is substantiated, they will be responsible for the costs of making the required improvements to correct violations, the plaintiff’s legal fees, and statutory damages.

Many accessibility issues are simple to fix if a business knows what it needs to do. Each small step in improving access potentially reduces a business’ exposure to a lawsuit. Courts look favorably upon proactive businesses that have a plan of action to fix their building, even if the plan is not yet finished.

Recognizing the need to assist small businesses with their accessibility compliance efforts, the state and federal government has implemented regulations, tax credits, and assistance programs.

Required by California state law

Assembly Bill 3002 under federal and state law, compliance with disability access laws is a serious and significant responsibility that applies to all California building owners and tenants with buildings open to the public. You may obtain information about your legal obligations and how to comply with disability access laws at the following agencies:

Division of State Architect
Department of Rehabilitation
California Commission on Disability Access

Construction-Related Accessibility Standards Compliance Act (CRASCA, Civil Code §55.51-55.545, also referred to as SB1608) created the CASp program and afforded certain protections in the California court system to any business owner that hires a CASp to perform an accessibility inspection.

SB 1186 – Disability Access this bill imposes on January 1, 2013, through December 31, 2018, an additional state fee of $1.00 on any applicant for a local business license or equivalent instrument or permit, or renewal thereof, for purpose of increasing disability access and compliance with construction related accessibility requirements, and developing educational resources for businesses to facilitate compliance with federal and state disability laws, as specified.

California Government Code Section 4467, Disability Access & Education, establishes the County must collect an additional $1 with each business tax certificate application or renewal; 30% of the funds are collected by the Division of the State Architect and 70% of the funds are retained by County.

Assembly Bill 1379 amends Government Code Section 4467 Disability Access and Education to extend the operation of the fee indefinitely and increases the amount from $1 to $4 for a period of 5 years, 90% of which is retained by the city for the purpose of increased certified access specialist (CASp) training and certification within that local jurisdiction and to facilitate compliance with construction-related accessibility requirements. The amount of the fee will revert to $1 with the amount retained reverting to 70%, on and after January 1, 2024.

Funding collected under SB1186 and amendments can only be used for:
• Increasing Certified Access Specialist (CASp) training and certification within that local jurisdiction
• Activities or programs to facilitate compliance with construction-related accessibility requirements
• Related administrative services (maximum 5% of revenue)

Tax credits and assistance programs

California Capital Access Program Americans with Disabilities Act (CalCAP/ADA) Financing Program assists small businesses with financing the costs to alter or retrofit existing small business facilities to comply with the requirements of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990.

IRS Disabled Access Tax Credit allows a tax credit for small businesses which can cover up to 50% of the eligible access expenditures in a year.

Upcoming events

The County of Marin Disability Access Program is developing a series of public meetings to provide the Marin Business Community with the opportunity to learn more about accessibility requirements and incentives to comply. Stay tuned for announcements and updates on upcoming events!

Additional resources

Americans with Disabilities Act Title III
ADA Guide for Small Businesses (PDF English)
ADA Guide for Small Businesses (PDF Chinese)
ADA Guide for Small Businesses (PDF Spanish)
California Building Code, Chapter 11B Accessibility to Public Buildings, Public Accommodations, Commercial Buildings and Public Housing
Resources For Small Businesses Regarding Physical Barriers And Accessible Design Standards
Open-air Dining and Curbside Pickup Disability Access Considerations (PDF)

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