Friday, November 14, 2008

Fresno Pedestrians in Peril: "Sidewalks Must Be Accessible, Says 9th Circuit"

Blog no. 2 regarding the obstructions on existing sidewalks in Fresno, CA. Blog no. 1 can be seen by clicking:

Below are a couple of articles found online - there are countless others pertaining to laws and civil rights regarding obstructions on sidewalks. Beneath these articles are photographs of various sidewalks in Fresno, CA. What makes this so incredible is that our streets and sidewalks did not used to look like this. Placement of these obstructions is in conjunction with a massive cover-up that has turned the city inside out - secret altering of the city water system. It continues, as the operation continues! The people behind this, including those who are altering and reconnecting the utility poles/wires/cables are not authorized to do so - many are not even licensed. (I have names.) Therefore, instead of permits and inspections, records are altered to make it appear that things were always this way. PG&E office personnel are looking at altered records - that is all they have to go by, which is why there is no help. Citywide compliance issues pertaining to overhead and underground utilities are not being dealt with - endangering every resident in the city.

Upon being caught, Public Works (who conspires with the fake work crew behind this) had a Restraining Order issued against me for reporting this barbaric operation - including the heinous crimes being committed to innocent residents in order to carry all of this out. Efforts are now being put into stopping me from exposing this - from death threats to threatening me with being locked up as "crazy." There are not enough lies, threats or altered records to cover up the truth - they finally got caught. The photographs below, show only a portion of what these people have gotten by with.

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They are wide enough to comfortably accommodate at least two adults walking side by side, and are clear of obstructions both horizontally and vertically; this includes overgrowth, parked vehicles, and garbage or recycle containers.
They are well maintained and free of cracks or lifted sections that could become tripping hazards and barriers to people in wheelchairs.

Problems/obstructions on existing sidewalks
- A variety of problems may make walking on the sidewalks in your neighborhood difficult, if not impossible. These include:
- Sidewalks are buckled, lifted, or cracked due to tree roots or other causes
- Sidewalks are blocked due to the placement of utility poles, sign posts, pot holes, fire hydrants, bus benches, newspaper racks, snow, parked cars, or other obstructions
- Sidewalks are blocked by bushes or low tree branches
- Sidewalks lack curb ramps at street corners, crosswalks, and driveways
- The driveway side-slopes are steep and hard to cross
- These situations can make walking difficult or impossible, especially for people pushing carts or strollers, older pedestrians, those with impaired vision and people with mobility difficulties who may be using walkers, canes, wheelchairs, and crutches.

If a sidewalk obstacle creates an ADA violation, it has to be remedied. Cost is not an excuse for not making a sidewalk accessible.

All walkways must be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which mandates the establishment of minimum walkway clearance widths, most recently updated to 48 inches. This clear width minimum is the minimum width for passage and not a sidewalk width recommendation. There are a variety of organizations that offer sidewalk width recommendations (Guide for the Planning Design and Operation of Pedestrian Facilities from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials [AASHTO], the Design and Safety of Pedestrian Facilities from the Institute of Transportation Engineers [ITE], and the FHWA Designing Sidewalks and Trails for Access: Best Practices and Design Guide Part II). For more details, review the above documents or visit ADA-ABA Accessibility Guidelines for Buildings and Facilities and the Accessible Rights-of-Way: A Design Guide.

Cities join Sacramento to take sidewalk access fight to Supreme Court
SACRAMENTO, Nov. 1, 2002 -- The city of Sacramento, Calif. will petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case it lost in June, when the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it was required under the Americans with Disabilities Act to ensure its sidewalks were passable and usable by people in wheelchairs (see "
Sidewalks Must Be Accessible, Says 9th Circuit"). The city has asked other cities to join it as "friends of the court" to "overturn the Ninth Circuit."
Olive Ave. / Fwy. 99 (and around the corner)

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Free Image Hosting

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Old St. Agnes Hospital on Fruit Ave. (Between Olive and McKinley) Now a retirement home / convalescent center. Ever wonder why so many wheelchair users are seen in the street rather than on the sidewalk?

(All the photographs I took of this structure being totally "rebuilt" vanished from my hard drive.)

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W. Clinton Ave. (Between Fruit Ave. and Wishon Ave.)

According to one article, buckled sidewalks like these can trigger seizures for someone in a wheel chair with spinal cord injuries.

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N. Palm Ave. - (Next to and across the street from John Muir Elementary School)

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Dudley (around the corner)

Although there are many others, this is a link regarding a 2006 class-action lawsuit against California Department of Transportation ("Caltrans.")

"Caltrans provides and maintains many facilities throughout the state of California that are inaccessible to people with disabilities. These facilities include sidewalks and other pedistrian pathways, as well as park and ride facilities. These facilities frequently contain access barriers that expose disables persons to many hazards, including forcing wheelchair users to roll in the streets alongside vehicular traffic." The attorney listed is Mary-Lee E. Kimber, a disability rights advocate, located in Berkeley, CA. Ph: (510)665-8644

In the past, I contacted Caltrans about one of their volunteers for "Adopt-a-Highway." I am referring to the same gentleman described above, who happens to be a former employee of the City of Fresno - behind altering / reconnecting of underground and overhead utilities. He insisted that the portion of the highway assigned to him be located next to the city's heavy equipment. At the same time, he bought vacant lots from the City - located close to the construction. He and his fake work crew spent weekends excavating and according to him, "making connections" that no one would ever find out about. He then re-sold these properties and resigned from Adopt-A-Highway. He took me on a tour of these lots - proud as could be of what he had accomplished without anyone ever suspecting anything. (There were more vacant lots than the ones he purchased, including the one next to Manchester Shopping Center, where he put up a flag.) Caltrans merely responded, "He resigned." Once again - no help or interest.

Special Report: Accessible Public Rights-of-Way Planning and Design for Alterations

Public Rights of Way and the ADA

Department of Rehabilitation (ADA)