YOLO SUN OPINION :

The new Yolo County Courthouse has just celebrated its “grand opening.”

On August 24th, Yolo Sun published a letter to state and local officials responsible for Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance at the new Yolo County Courthouse.

In this letter (please see earlier article, below on blog scroll), we detailed numerous violations and deficiencies with disabled parking and route of travel to the new courthouse.

Since writing that letter, a number of the issues we raised have been addressed — but others remain.

Judicial Council of California has sent a reply letter (please see below).

Two Sets Of Stop Signs

Based on our letter, the City of Woodland has installed stop signs on Lincoln Avenue at Sixth Street to help protect pedestrians, including the disabled, travelling from both parking lots to the courthouse.

However — somehow overlooked — was our letter’s indication of necessary installation of stop signs at the intersection of Oak Avenue and Sixth Street.  Yolo Sun has again requested city action.

The city greatly needs to install stop signs on Oak Avenue at Sixth Street to protect pedestrians using the 171 courthouse parking spaces located in the more distant of the two public parking lots, as well as pedestrians — including disabled persons — who must (are directed to) there cross Sixth Street from the closer parking lot.

As of today, the city has still not done so.  The new courthouse is filling these lots on a near-daily basis.  How long does the city intend to delay the imperative installation of this second set of stop signs?

Reply Of State Judicial Council

Construction of the new courthouse was financed and overseen by the state-level Judicial Council of California (JCC), which bears primary responsibility for its ADA compliance.

Published below, is the reply letter received from the JCC, promising to rectify several of the deficiencies we raised.  For example, it has promised to add one ADA-required, van-accessible disabled parking space, found missing from the original courthouse allotment.   JCC also promised to add signage at the parking lot across from the Police Station to discourage jay walking on Sixth Street, which pedestrians will be tempted to do to avoid as much as an extra block of travel distance between that lot and the courthouse.  Neither of these promised improvements has yet materialized, but we suppose JCC can be taken at its word and these remedies will soon be forthcoming.

Unfortunately, JCC’s reply fails to correct the most serious problem facing disabled persons traveling from their parking spaces to the courthouse – namely, the two and a half to three block distance they have to negotiate, as well as facing traffic hazards along the way, passing across two busy driveways (for the courthouse and the police station).

No Solution Yet Provided

JCC’s letter of reply addresses these concerns about unreasonable distance and hazards faced by the disabled – related to potential ADA violations — but without providing any satisfactory solution.

Our letter to JCC outlined several potential solutions, such as leasing parking for disabled persons from the large lot of Woodland Joint Unified School District (directly across Sixth Street from the courthouse).  Believably, this lot already has new signage disinclining casual parking by courthouse visitors — disabled or not.  Leased parking arrangements would allow the courthouse to direct disabled persons into this much closer lot; while, expanding regular parking within its lots several blocks away.

Other potential solutions also exist, for bringing disabled persons within a reasonable distance of travel from the courthouse door.

Yolo Sun will continue to act, monitor and report on these issues, as well as continue to seek solutions for these courthouse deficiencies.

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TEXT OF REPLY LETTER FROM JUDICIAL COUNCIL OF CALIFORNIA

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From:  Judicial Council Of California

September 4, 2015

Re:  New Yolo County Superior Courthouse (Courthouse)

Dear Mr. Harris

Thank you for your interest and concern relative to Americans Disabilities Act (ADA), and its applicability to the above Courthouse as expressed in your letter to the Judicial Council of California (JCC) ADA coordinator, Ms. Linda McCulloh. I would like to advise you that the plans for this building were developed under the regulations set forth in the 2010 California Building Code (CBC), and the accessibility requirements in the CBC while in conformance with the ADA, in some instances are more stringent. As with all of our Projects, the plans for this project were submitted for approval to the compliance unit within the Division of the State Architect (DSA). We received such approval prior to construction.

Despite receiving such approval, the safety and concern for all of the visitors to the Courthouse is paramount for the Judicial Council of California, as well as the local Court. Prior to establishing the parking lots that you describe, much effort was made to determine that their location and path of travel was as close as possible to the entrance to the Courthouse. Obviously, as in many downtown areas, there is a limit to the number of sites available. In the case of this project we were able to find sites that did provide a path of travel over new and existing sidewalks. Unfortunately, we did not control or have the ability to clear a path of travel through the Railroad Museum site, contiguous to the northern boundary of what you refer to as “Lot A”.

However, notwithstanding the above DSA approval, and in support of making accessible accommodations as convenient as possible, we are in the process of adding one van accessible space parking space in “Lot A”. We also requested the City of Woodland Public Works Department to review the placing of stop signs at Sixth Street and Lincoln. After completing an engineering study, they have installed a stop sign at that location. We are also in the process of placing signage directing the pedestrian path of travel to hopefully preempt jaywalking. Other potential parking spaces are dependent on their availability and the City of Woodland’s enforcement policies over which we have no control.

Again, thank you for your interest in this matter and we will advise you when the additional space is available.

Sincerely,

Loren “Mike” Smith, Project Manager

Judicial Council of California

MS/sme

Cc:

Honorable Kathleen M. White, Presiding Judge, Yolo County Superior Court

Mr. Shawn C. Landry, Court Executive Officer, Yolo County Superior Court

Mr. Matt Rexroad, Chairman, Yolo County Board of Supervisors

Mr. Patrick S. Blacklock, County Administrator, Yolo County

Mr. Tom Stallard, Mayor, City of Woodland

Mr. Paul Navazio, City Manager, City of Woodland

Mr. Martin Hoshino, Administrative Director, Judicial Council of California

Mr. Bill Guerin, Director, Capital Programs, Judicial Council of California

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