Between 1993 and 2004, Mimi Greenberg was a renter — and later an owner — at the 196-unit Los Feliz Towers condominium complex. She is disabled, suffering from problems with mobility, fatigue, short-term memory loss, and loss of bladder control.
Greenberg uses a motorized scooter because she fatigues easily, causing her to stumble and fall. Los Feliz Towers does not have any parking spaces reserved for handicapped residents and guests.
Purchase Bob Bruss reports online.
Although Greenberg owned a deeded garage space, she was unable to use it with her handicapped-equipped van lift. The Los Feliz “parking policy” for disabled residents requires the individual to ask the security guard to retrieve the owner’s vehicle for pick up in front of the building after 15 to 30 minutes. Upon returning, the security guard parks the handicapped resident’s vehicle.
After she purchased her handicapped-equipped van, Greenberg requested an accessible parking space, either the manager’s space or any of three suitable visitor spaces so she could “self-park.”
She felt the “parking policy” diminished her independence because of the delays obtaining her van. Also, Greenberg occasionally experienced loss of bladder control while driving and felt humiliated having to hand her keys to the security guard after she had “wet the seat.”
When Greenberg requested an assigned handicapped parking space, the Los Feliz homeowner’s association board of directors rejected her request. But the board offered to bring her car every morning to one of the guest spaces in front of the building where it would remain accessible to Greenberg all day.
In 2004, Greenberg moved out of Los Feliz Towers because of the parking situation. She rented her condo to a tenant. Greenberg filed this lawsuit, with the help of a housing advocacy group, for housing discrimination based on the federal Fair Housing Amendments Act (FHAA), federal Americans with Disabilities Act, and state laws prohibiting discrimination.
If you were the judge would you rule the condominium homeowner’s association must make a “reasonable accommodation” for Greenberg and other handicapped persons?
The judge said yes!
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act, the judge began, does not apply to this situation because this is a private property and not a place of “public accommodation,” such as a hotel or a business open to the public.
However, the condominium association is clearly a “business establishment” under state and federal laws, which prohibit housing discrimination, he continued. As Greenberg is not the only handicapped resident at Los Feliz Towers, the judge noted, it might not be feasible or even necessary to assign specific handicapped parking spaces.
But an adequate number of handicapped-designated parking spaces should be made available for residents and guests, or a suitable arrangement such as the current “parking policy,” to prevent housing discrimination against the handicapped, the judge emphasized. The board is therefore ordered to provide adequate parking arrangements for its handicapped residents and visitors, the judge ruled.
Based on the 2006 U.S. District Court decision in Southern California Housing Rights Center v. Los Feliz Towers, 426 Fed.Supp.2d 1061.
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