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Thread: How do outdoor seating/dining areas meet ADA compliance?

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    How do outdoor seating/dining areas meet ADA compliance?

    In some cities like Miami Beach the restaurant patios consume the entire sidewalk all the way to the curb line. Other cities are far stricter when it comes to approving outdoor seating. Just curious what your interpretation of the ADA issues are as I have heard conflicting opinions.

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    In my experience, I have always required a minimum 5 foot clear walkway on the sidewalk (public or private), which was code required as well.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

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    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    In my experience, I have always required a minimum 5 foot clear walkway on the sidewalk (public or private).
    same here

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    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    In my experience, I have always required a minimum 5 foot clear walkway on the sidewalk (public or private), which was code required as well.
    Same here as well.

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman View post
    In my experience, I have always required a minimum 5 foot clear walkway on the sidewalk (public or private), which was code required as well.
    Ok, here's what I'm dealing with... suppose it isn't an urban streetscape and the situation is a cafe occupying the corner position of a commercial strip building with off-street parking. The cafe wants to extend the outdoor seating area to the curb. They argue that there other points of access to the buildings from the parking lot. Would you still require the clearance?

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    Ok, here's what I'm dealing with... suppose it isn't an urban streetscape and the situation is a cafe occupying the corner position of a commercial strip building with off-street parking. The cafe wants to extend the outdoor seating area to the curb. They argue that there other points of access to the buildings from the parking lot. Would you still require the clearance?
    Yes. The private walk in the strip building is still a "public" walking area and there should continue to be sufficient space for walkers on the sidewalk without having to walk into parking or auto drive aisles.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

    Six seasons and a movie!

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    Ok, here's what I'm dealing with... suppose it isn't an urban streetscape and the situation is a cafe occupying the corner position of a commercial strip building with off-street parking. The cafe wants to extend the outdoor seating area to the curb. They argue that there other points of access to the buildings from the parking lot. Would you still require the clearance?
    Additionally, ADA requirements are civil rights legislation and as such, anything that forces a person to use a different entrance (especially a back door) is viewed as discriminatory. This case may be a murky zone if lots of patrons use these other entrances as well. But in general (and this is by no means my area of expertise) my impression has been that creating an obstruction for, say, wheelchair users to access the front door would be considered a violation of the ADA. This may not apply to situations with extenuating circumstances like an historic building not easily adapted, but assuming that is not the case, having a bigger patio is probably not an acceptable argument. What do pedestrians do to get around the patio? Do they have to step off the curb? That seems problematic, too.
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    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
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    Run a test ; get in a wheel chair and go through it at rush time.

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    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    Ok, here's what I'm dealing with... suppose it isn't an urban streetscape and the situation is a cafe occupying the corner position of a commercial strip building with off-street parking. The cafe wants to extend the outdoor seating area to the curb. They argue that there other points of access to the buildings from the parking lot. Would you still require the clearance?
    At my former place of employment, a BW3's went in the end space of a strip mall and we let them put an outdoor cafe in on the sidewalk and parking spaces toward the actual corner of the buildling. Our reasoning was that our ordinance didn't requires sidewalks around the perimeter of the building and because the cafe would be at the end, it wouldn't interrup the flow of the sidewalk along the front of the building and the front door was still completely accessible as it would normally be. Additionally, ADA requirements could still be met and there were ample parking spaces in the lot so using 2-3 of them didn't affect parking requirements.

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    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by SW MI Planner View post
    At my former place of employment, a BW3's went in the end space of a strip mall and we let them put an outdoor cafe in on the sidewalk and parking spaces toward the actual corner of the buildling. Our reasoning was that our ordinance didn't requires sidewalks around the perimeter of the building and because the cafe would be at the end, it wouldn't interrup the flow of the sidewalk along the front of the building and the front door was still completely accessible as it would normally be. Additionally, ADA requirements could still be met and there were ample parking spaces in the lot so using 2-3 of them didn't affect parking requirements.
    I'm tempted to sign off on it, but I'm afraid the disability commission people will sucker-punch me..

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    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by hilldweller View post
    I'm tempted to sign off on it, but I'm afraid the disability commission people will sucker-punch me..
    I think it depends on how it's laid out. In my case it didn't affect barrier free entrances, sidewalks, parking, etc. so it wasn't a problem. If it's blocking sidewalk passage to an entrance, to parking or another tenant, than it shouldn't be approved. If it's not, I don't see that it would be a problem.

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