• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Tales of the Red Tape #29: Drowning in New Regulations

    Some 120 regulations taking effect in the past year require enhanced accommodations for disabled individuals at 65 different types of public and private facilities—encompassing 7 million privately owned sites and 80,000 units of state and local government—including stadiums; convention centers; auditoriums; airport terminals; public parking facilities; theaters and concert halls; jails; prisons; bowling alleys; fishing piers; amusement parks; hotels, motels, and spas; restaurants; stores; health care clinics; and office buildings (to name a few).

    All of which will cost more than $1 billion annually for each of the next 15 years, according to the Department of Justice (DOJ), which also admits that “facilities or users may incur costs in areas that are not quantified.”

    Indeed. The agency’s cost calculation doesn’t capture the teeth-grinding aggravation that typically ensues when one is forced to deal with the federal bureaucracy. Hoteliers are an unfortunate example.

    The new rules require (for the first time) that swimming pools, wading pools, and spas—some 300,000 of them—be made “accessible” for the disabled. But the folks who actually own the pools have no say in how to comply. On the contrary, the government dictates every detail (e.g., “A transfer space of 60 inches minimum by 60 inches minimum with a slope not steeper than 1:48 shall be provided at the base of the transfer platform surface and shall be centered along a 24 inch minimum side of the transfer platform.”)

    These regulations were published on September 15, 2010, after a rulemaking that stretched six years. Shortly thereafter, manufacturers began furious production of the various components needed to retrofit pools. Hotels and the like were racing to meet the compliance deadline despite lacking clarity on key elements of the regulation.

    The DOJ issued a “technical assistance document” in January that served only to confuse matters even worse. In its guidance, the agency stated that pool “lifts” had to be fixed to pool decks—i.e., portable lifts would not meet the standard.

    This was news to the hoteliers, who pointed out that the original rules made no such distinction and, consequently, thousands of retrofit components became unusable. After several Members of Congress complained, the DOJ extended the compliance deadline by 60 days—until May 15, 2012—and issued a request for comments on the rules from the pool industry.

    So now no one has pool access where construction is in limbo as the government attempts to sort out its own rules. If the bureaucrats who write them don’t know what they mean, it’s pretty clear that we’ve gone off the regulatory deep end.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    7 Responses to Tales of the Red Tape #29: Drowning in New Regulations

    1. I see the unintended consequence of these regulations being more public accessible pools being closed. How many places will be able to afford to retrofit their pools again and again?

    2. Rifleman says:

      This doesn't count the legal costs from lawsuits, but the dp didn't really forget their trial lawyer buddies, because these ruinous new regulations are actionable in civil court.

    3. David A. Young says:

      As someone who's been confined to a wheelchair for most of my 56 years of life, I believe any taxpayer funded facility (i.e., courthouse, driver's license office, state unemployment office, etc.) should he handicapped accessible. Other than that…no, it should not be mandatory. I believe it's in the best interest of a private business to be available to as many people as possible…but it should be up to the owner of the private property to make the decision as to whether that expense makes sense or not. I do believe that the concept of "private property" should mean something.

      • Jim Loudon says:

        Exactly David. I have been saying this for years. These crazy smoking bans are another thing. I am not a smoker but if PRIVATE business owners wants to allow smoking in their establishments, thats THEIR CHOICE! Politicians and do-gooder bureaucrats have been sticking their noses in businesses for years costing millions in useless spending and loss of jobs.

    4. Cathy Douglass says:

      I agree with David that public pools should be accessible, but I think private pools at hotels and motels should not be included. As with other excessive government regulations, we will have unintended consequences. Obviously one will be that pools at smaller motels where families can take their children for a fun vacation to swim and stay within a tight budget will be closed. What a shame….I have wonderful memories as a child and as a parent of swimming in a motel pool. We thought that was great fun!

    5. Irishblue says:

      Starting to get tired of our government micro-managing us. I agree with David A. Young's statement that is is in the best interest of private business to be available to as many people as possible and that all taxpayer funded facilities should be handicapped accessible. Believe me, businesses want ANYONE who wants to spend money in their establishment.

      But demanding retrofit construction, then "changing the rules" if you will, is so typical of the way they micro-manage today's business. I could understand requiring this for new construction, I could. But what of the mom and pop motel in small town America? The cute, quaint place that charges $20 a night and typically has only a couple of rooms booked per night? This demands they spend God knows how much for something that will most likely never, ever be used.

    6. K. Bradshaw says:

      What is really out of Hand is that there are individuals that target certain businesses that either do not, or can not have ADA compliance in their business. These businesses soon get a letter from an attorney that say's they are not in compliance, they either need to update immediately, or be shut down, OR you guessed it pay this SCAM group off for 5k-10k. And they will leave you alone. Where is the justice in this? The Fed's should go after these groups an shut them down, an make them pay back double for all the hardships they have caused to small (ma an pa) businesses. A business owner should not have to upgrade their facilities to be ADA compliant, if they choose not to. It is private property, they get to choose what's best for their business. To update a business to maybe get that 1-3 extra customers a week, or a month, definitely NOT worth it. I do believe Federal and State businesses should be in compliant, along with newly constructed businesses.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×