Port of SF 2004 ADA Transition Plan - Background

The Port of San Francisco has decided to re-evaluate its current Title II ADA Transition Plan. This has resulted in the development of the proposed 2004 Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan. It is the intent of the Port that this plan replace all previous self-evaluations and or transition plans.

John Paul Scott, AIA, the Port of San Francisco’s ADA Coordinator and managing architect prepared this report, with the assistance of the directors and staff of the Port of San Francisco. The disability advocacy firm Magar & Milstein provided peer review and assisted in developing community input through a Disability Access Committee which specifically assembled to provide comments and support to the project. Conceptual, cost estimating was conducted by Moffatt Nichol, Engineers.

The following questions and answers explain this process.

What is the Port of San Francisco? In 1968, the State of California transferred its responsibilities for the San Francisco waterfront to the City and County of San Francisco through the Burton Act. As a condition of the transfer, the State required the City to create a Port Commission with the authority to manage the San Francisco waterfront for the citizens of California. The Port Commission, its staff, property and procedures make up the Port of San Francisco. It is a "public entity," as the Americans with Disabilities Act defines that term.

Since 1968, The Port has been responsible for managing the 7-1/2 miles of San Francisco Bay shoreline stretching from Hyde Street Pier in the north to India Basin in the south. The Port’s landside boundaries zigzag along streets adjacent to the Embarcadero Boulevard, and parts of Third Street, Terry Francios Boulevard and Illinois Street. The Port's responsibilities include promoting maritime commerce, navigation, and fisheries; restoring the environment; and providing public recreation. More than 1,000 acres fall under its jurisdiction.

Although the Port is a department of the City and County of San Francisco, the Port receives no financial support from the City, and relies almost solely on the leasing of Port property for its revenues.

What is Title II of the ADA? Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act is the section of the law that applies to state and local governments and similar public entities, such as the Port. It requires that the Port’s buildings, structures, programs, activities and services be made accessible to individuals with disabilities.

What is a Transition Plan? A Transition Plan is a document required by the ADA. It is the public entity’s plan and timetable to remove architectural barriers that impede or block access to the public entity’s programs, activities and services. A public entity is required to develop a transition plan when it can not immediately make or modify a program, service or activity accessible to individuals with disabilities. The Transition Plan identifies the barriers, prioritizes barrier removal, and establishes a timeline for completing removal of all of the barriers.

Why Re-evaluate the Current Transition Plan? The Port has accomplished a great deal of progress in making the Port’s facilities, programs, services and activities accessible, but wants to refocus and continue the process of identifying, prioritizing and removing access barriers.

  1. The Port’s understanding of the ADA has matured, enabling it to offer increased accessibility;
  2. The Port wants to evaluate the successes and failures of its accomplishments to date;
  3. The Port wants public assistance to establish new goals and priorities for providing accessible services through its Transition Plan activities.
  4. Since there are new State and Federal rules and building codes being developed on accessibility, the Port wants to plan for their incorporation now and in the future.

What are the Port’s programs, services and activities? The Port provides the programs, services and activities to hold and manage the Port’s lands in public trust.

Programs, Services or activities provided or conducted at Pier 1:

  • A public reception and meeting facility
  • A public greeting and information web site
  • Port facility landlord and leasing activities. Tenants may include:
    • Title II state or local governmental entities;
    • Title III public accommodations;
    • Commercial or industrial tenants not covered by Title II or Title III;
    • Facility or development landlords of facilities that contain Title II and Title II Tenants
  • Title II or Title III entities that are primarily engaged in or not primarily engaged in the business of providing public transportation.
  • A place to obtain public information on the Port and Ferry schedules
  • Public planning for the Port’s lands
  • Building permit applications and approvals for tenant construction
  • Permit applications for temporary events in Port public areas and piers
  • Manager of public rights of ways, sidewalks and curb ramps
  • New Construction, alteration and maintenance of Port facilities and properties
    • Port Maintenance Division is located at Pier 50 but it does not conduct any programs or services for the public at this location
  • ADA Title II grievance procedures
  • Title I Employment
    • Employees are located at Pier 1, Pier 50 and the Harbor Master’s Office
  • Port Advisory Committee meeting manager and facilitator
    • Meetings may be held at Pier 1 or at other locations within the Port’s jurisdiction
  • Location of other City of San Francisco and State agencies in joint projects or management of Port facilities and services
  • A voting precinct location

Programs, services or activities provided at or conducted in the Port’s Ferry Building

  • Port Commission public hearings
  • Transportation hub for ferry service, AmtraK and public transit systems

Programs, services or activities provided along the 7-½ miles of Port property

  • Public right-of-way, curb ramps and street parking
    • A portion of this activity is assigned to the San Francisco Public Works Department or the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency
  • Open space, recreational space and fishing pier provider
  • Public arts and exhibitions provider
  • Harbor master and landlord for Fisherman’s Wharf harbors
    • The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency manages the South Beach Harbor
  • Public boat launch (Pier 50)
  • Transportation Piers at China Basin Ferry Terminal and Pier 43
  • Port facility and public rights of way improvement projects
    • These may be conducted by the Port, Port tenants, or by other agencies of the City of San Francisco

What is the difference between Title II and Title III ADA requirements of the ADA?

Title II applies to state and local governments and similar public entities. Title II requires program access to the Port’s programs, services and activities. It requires a Transition Plan to remove architectural barriers that inhibit or prevent an individual with a disability’s access to the program, service or activity. It requires that all new construction or alterations be made accessible, and where necessary that the public accommodation provide auxiliary aids and services to people with hearing or visual impairments.

The Port is a Title II entity.

Title III applies to public accommodations. These are twelve broad categories of privately owned and operated commercial, recreational, entertainment and social service types of businesses. Title III requires public accommodations to remove existing architectural barriers to goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages or accommodations. It requires that all new construction or alterations be made accessible, and where necessary that the public accommodation provide auxiliary aids and services to people with hearing or visual impairments.

The Port is not a Title III public accommodation.

Basic Requirements Of Title II Of The ADA

1. Existing Facilities: Program Accessibility

When programs, services, or activities are located in facilities that existed prior to January 26, 1992, the effective date of Title II of the ADA, public entities must make sure that they are also available to persons with disabilities -- unless doing so would fundamentally alter a program, service, or activity or result in undue financial and administrative burdens. This requirement is called program accessibility. When a service, program, or activity is located in a building that is not accessible, the Port can achieve program accessibility in several ways. It can:

  • relocate the program or activity to an accessible facility
  • provide the activity, service, or benefit in another manner that meets ADA requirements, or
  • make modifications to the building or facility itself to provide accessibility.

Thus, to achieve program accessibility, the Port need not make every existing facility accessible. It can relocate some programs to accessible facilities and modify other facilities, avoiding expensive physical modifications of all of the Port’s facilities.

When the Port becomes aware that a program is not accessible and plans to alter a facility to provide access, it may be necessary to temporarily relocate a program, service, or activity to an accessible location or to temporarily offer the service in an alternate manner. This temporary solution assures that the service, program, or activity is accessible during the time the alterations are planned and being implemented.

When choosing a method of providing program access, the Port must give priority to the one that results in the most integrated setting appropriate to encourage interaction among all users, including individuals with disabilities. In addition, the Port may offer additional activities or services so an individual with a disability can more fully participate in, or benefit from, a program, service, or activity. However, the Port cannot require a person with a disability to participate in such segregated services, programs or activities.

Because program accessibility may be provided in an accessible part of a facility when the remainder of the facility is not accessible, the public must be informed of the location of accessible features. Signs should direct the public to the location of accessible elements and spaces, including the location of accessible parking, the accessible entrance to a facility, and accessible toilet rooms. In addition, the Port may issue a brochure or pamphlet with a map indicating the Port’s accessible features.

The Port may rent non-accessible space to a tenant. Depending on the terms and conditions of the lease, the Port, as landlord, assigns the responsibilities for ADA compliance of that tenant’s space to the tenant. When tenants decide to change building uses, build new construction or alter their existing facilities, they must apply for a building permit from the Port. Building permit applications are reviewed for compliance with the California Building Code, which has one of the most aggressive accessibility requirements of any code in the nation. These projects are then inspected by Port personnel for compliance to permit requirements before occupancy.

2. New Construction and Alterations

New Construction
ADA requirements for new construction have been in effect since January 1992. New buildings and facilities must comply with the new construction provisions of the ADA Standards for Accessible Design (without the elevator exemption) or the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standards (UFAS). This requirement includes facilities that are open to the public and those that are for use by employees.

The ADA Standards for Accessible Design (ADA Standards) were first issued in 1991 and have been selected as the ADA design standard by many towns. Although public entities now have the option to choose either the ADA Standards or the UFAS, it is likely that in the future the ADA Standards will become the only design standard under the ADA. Because ADA requirements for new construction and alterations change from time to time, the Port must become familiar with any new design and construction requirements before a project starts.

Alterations and Additions
When the Port renovates, adds to, or alters a building or facility for any purpose, the alterations or additions must comply with the ADA Standards. In general, the alteration provisions are the same as the new construction requirements except that deviations are permitted when it is not technically feasible to comply. Additions are considered an alteration but the addition must follow the new construction requirements. When existing structural and other conditions make it impossible to meet all the alteration requirements of the ADA Standards, they should be followed to the greatest extent possible.

3. Maintenance of Accessible Features

The Port must maintain in operable working condition those features that are necessary to provide access to services, programs, and activities -- including elevators and lifts, curb ramps at intersections, accessible parking spaces, ramps to building or facility entrances, door hardware, and accessible toilet facilities. The ADA permits isolated or temporary interruptions in service or access for maintenance or repairs.

4. Effective Communication

The Port must take appropriate steps to ensure that communications with members of the public, job applicants, and participants with disabilities are as effective as communications with others unless it is an undue financial and administrative burden to do so, or it would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of its program or activity.

Achieving effective communication often requires that the Port provide auxiliary aids and services. Examples of auxiliary aids and services include qualified sign language interpreters, assistive listening devices, open and closed captioning, note-takers, written materials, telephone handset devices, qualified readers, taped texts, audio recordings, Braille materials, materials on computer disk, and large print materials.

Determination of an undue financial burden or a fundamental alteration can only be made by the Executive Director of the Port or his or her designee and must be accompanied by a written statement of the reasons for reaching that conclusion. The determination of an undue burden must be based on all resources available for use in the program, service, or activity. When it is not possible to provide a particular type of auxiliary aid to achieve effective communication due to an undue burden or fundamental alteration, the Port must take any other action that would not result in such burdens or fundamental alteration, but would nevertheless ensure that individuals with disabilities receive the benefits and services of the program or activity in the most integrated setting possible.

5. Policies, Practices and Procedures

The Port must make reasonable modifications to policies, practices, and procedures to avoid discrimination against individuals with disabilities. However, it does not have to make modifications that would result in a fundamental alteration in the program, service, or activity or result in a direct threat to the health or safety of others. A direct threat is a significant, imminent risk that cannot be eliminated or reduced to an acceptable level by modification of policies, practices, or procedures, or by the provision of auxiliary aids or services. The Port’s determination that a person poses a direct threat to the health or safety of others may not be based on generalizations or stereotypes about the effects of a particular disability (see The ADA Title II Technical Assistance Manual).

Self-evaluation typically includes a review of polices, practices, and procedures. Periodic review after the initial self-evaluation may be done to maintain compliance with the ADA. The Port can choose how it wants to conduct a review of policies and practices that govern the administration of its programs, activities, and services. Although public entities that have already done a self-evaluation do not have to do another one, prudent practice requires regular updates of self-evaluations, such as this one.

6. Processes for Complying with the ADA

An ADA self-evaluation involves review of services, programs, and activities to identify any physical barriers or policies, practices, and procedures that might limit or exclude participation by people with disabilities. The Port’s self-evaluation included review of its permanent, temporary, and periodic services, programs, and activities in all its locations.

The ADA requires the Port to modify any policies, practices, or procedures that may limit or exclude individuals with disabilities, unless doing so would result in a fundamental alteration in the nature of the service, program, or activity, or cause undue financial and administrative burdens. The self-evaluation identified changes to policies that should be implemented as well as discriminatory policies, practices, and procedures that could not be reasonably changed without resulting in a fundamental alteration in the Port’s functions.

The self-evaluation also identified problems with the accessibility of facilities and offered recommendations for providing program accessibility (which may include relocation to an accessible facility). It also suggests short-term and long-term strategies to provide access to people with disabilities.

The Port’s first Self-Evaluation recommended some conventional barrier removal activity in the Ferry Building to provide a minimal level of accessibility. The second Self-Evaluation and subsequent Transition Plan recommended relocating the Port’s offices to a newly altered and fully accessible building (Pier 1), and then altering the Ferry Building into a fully accessible facility. The second Self-evaluation and Transition plan utilized short and long term strategies to provide a greater level of accessibility than what could have been achieved through quick remediation.

The Port’s current review of its Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan will bring those plans up to date.

7. Public notice about ADA requirements

The Port, as a public entity, must provide notice to the public about its ADA obligations and about accessible facilities and services. The notice must inform the public about the ADA's nondiscrimination requirements. It may also describe how the public or employees may contact specific officials about problems with accessibility and the need for effective communication. The information must be accessible to the public, including people who have disabilities that affect communication, such as blindness, low vision, deafness, and hearing loss. Although no specific method is required to reach the public, notice can be provided in more than one format and by using more than one type of media, such as web sites, print, radio, or television.

Currently, the Port is investigating the best way to make its web site fully accessible.

8. Other ADA obligations for public entities with 50 or more employees

The ADA requires State and local governments and other public entities with 50 or more employees, such as the Port, to take the following measures:

a. Designate an individual to coordinate ADA compliance
Responsibilities for the ADA coordinator may include conducting the self-evaluation and developing the transition plan, handling requests for auxiliary aids and services, providing information about accessible programs and services, and serving as a local resource to the Port and public. The ADA coordinator may also have responsibility for working with the entity’s management and commissions to ensure that new facilities or alterations to the entity’s facilities meet ADA requirements. In some instances, this individual also receives ADA complaints from the public and works to resolve them.

b. Develop a transition plan
If the Port decides to make physical changes to achieve program access it must develop a written plan that identifies and prioritizes the modifications that will be made. The plan should include timelines for completing these modifications. Interested parties, including people with disabilities and organizations representing people with disabilities, must at a minimum have an opportunity to participate in the development of the plan by submitting comments. A copy of the plan and a copy of the self-evaluation must be available for public inspection for three years after completion.

c. Develop a grievance procedure
The Port must have an ADA grievance procedure. A grievance procedure provides people who believe that they or others have been discriminated against on the basis of disability with a formal process to make their complaint known to the Port. This procedure encourages prompt and equitable resolution of the problem at the local level without forcing individuals to file a Federal complaint or a lawsuit to obtain results.

What Did The Port Do To Satisfy These ADA Requirements?

The Port has a person designated to be its ADA Coordinator. He is John Paul Scott. The Port’s previous ADA Coordinator, Kevin Jensen, helped shepherd the strategic accessibility improvements to the Ferry Building, Pier One and many other recent improvements to the Port’s properties, programs and policies.

The Port operated a grievance procedure, but it was not formally documented. The Port is in the process of formally documenting this procedure, and will harmonize it with a new City-wide grievance procedure being developed by the Mayor’s Office on Disability. In the interim, if a grievance is brought to the Port’s attention, it will follow its current procedure to resolve the issue.

The Port has modified its policies and procedures to provide more accessible services to the public. It established policies and harmonized them with those of the City and County of San Francisco. Accessibility notices have been added to Port Commission and certain Advisory Committee notices. It installed a TTY and Talking Signs in the facilities where it provides services, programs and activities.

ADA-related training and informational programs and resources have been provided to the staff. The Port continues its effort to tailor accessibility seminars to the needs of the Port’s specific disciplines.

As noted previously in this report, the Port has conducted several iterations of its Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan. The first was conducted in early 1992. It focused on conventional architectural barrier removals within the Ferry Building and certain other sites. The second Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan was conducted in 1997. This plan called for more architectural barrier removals at the Ferry Building, Pier 35 Passenger Vessel Terminal and several of the parks along the waterfront. An outgrowth of this was the alteration of the Ferry Building and Pier 1 into fully accessible facilities.

A third Transition Plan was developed that mixed Port Title II responsibilities with tenant Title III responsibilities. It was developed without a complete self-evaluation. Except for these large projects funded through joint development agreements, the confusion in responsibilities partially stalled further progress in architectural barrier removals by the Port. In early 2003 the Port decided to re-assess its Title II ADA compliance measures—a decision which led to this project.

What Are The Port's ADA Program Accessibility And Transition Projects To Date?

The Port of San Francisco has accomplished a significant number of accessibility projects throughout its properties. It has and will continue to remove barriers as this current Self-Evaluation and Transition Plan develops.

First the Port modified its policies and procedures to make them consistent with those of the City and County of San Francisco. It has added accessibility information to its Port Commission and Advisory Committee notices. It added a TTY telephone and provides auxiliary aides and services when requested. It enacted an ADA grievance procedure, provided staff ADA training programs and conducted extensive accessibility checks of tenant permit applications for alteration and new construction. It conducted a similar level of peer review of its own construction projects.

The ADA views facility accessibility as a result of the combined benefit gained from new construction, alterations and removal of barriers on existing facilities. The Port has followed this same strategy. Maintenance has become a significant issue as some of these facilities have aged since their initial construction or since initial barrier removals were conducted.

The Port has also become more accessible through large-scale development via partnerships between it and other agencies of the City and County of San Francisco, and through partnerships with private developers. The alterations of the Ferry Building and Pier 1, the reconstruction of the Embarcadero and other mass transit corridors, waterfront edges, and open parks have all been products of this strategy. The San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, MUNI and Public Works Department have all served as partners in this effort.

Projects that have significantly increased the accessibility of the Port are:

  • Ferry Building and terminal alterations and reconstruction,
  • Pier 1 alteration,
  • Embarcadero public rights of way, transportation corridor and curb ramp alterations,
  • Islais Creek Landing Park,
  • PUC Promenade Park,
  • Dogpatch curb ramps,
  • Mission Bay Park,
  • China Basin Park,
  • Mission Creek Park,
  • Giants Baseball Park public access,
  • South Beach Harbor public access and fishing pier,
  • Rincon Park,
  • Pier 5 Hornblower public access,
  • Pier 7 fishing pier,
  • Hyde Street Pier,
  • Pier 36 Cruise ship terminal barrier removals,

Recent and currently planned alterations and barrier removal projects include:

  • Ferry Terminal Signage replacement,
  • Fireman’s Plaza (MUNI),
  • PUC Park Tennessee Street access and ramp (DPW),
  • Tulare Park and the Illinois Street sidewalks and Bridge,
  • Warm Water Cove walkways and site furniture,
  • Aqua Vista Park walkway pavement and accessible parking,
  • Pier 50 parking, walkways and curb ramps,
  • Pier 48 parking re-striping,
  • Third Street Transportation Corridor (MUNI and DPW),
  • Terry Francios Boulevard curb ramp at China Basin Park,
  • South Beach Harbor improvements (SF Redevelopment Agency),
  • Pier 14 public access and breakwater conversion,
  • Ferry Building brow ramp alterations,
  • Pier 1 accessibility maintenance,
  • Pier 7 deck maintenance,
  • Pier 9 parking re-striping and accessible toilets,
  • Pier 35 security and barrier removal projects,
  • Pier 45 North (east ) apron pedestrian access,
  • Hyde Street pedestrian access and accessible parking re-striping,
  • Port-wide accessible street parking plan,
  • Port wide detectable curb ramp retrofit.

Other proposed development projects along the Port’s waterfront will greatly enhance accessibility in and adjacent to their locations. These projects include:

  • Continued coordination with the Mission Bay development,
  • Pier 30 and 32 cruise ship terminals and related development,
  • Brannan Street Wharf Park,
  • Pier 1 ½, 3 and 5 redevelopment,
  • Pier 27 and 29 recreational pier,
  • Broadway Hotel with its shared public open space,
  • Fisherman’s Wharf Triangle and Jefferson Street open space and public rights of way improvements.

Many tenants have applied to alter their facilities. These alterations require building permit applications and are reviewed by the Port of San Francisco’s building permits department. The applications are checked for compliance with the California Building Code, which includes one of the strongest accessibility codes in the nation. The permit procedure requires Port staff to inspect these projects prior to their completion.

As part of its Self-Evaluation, the Port is conducting a survey of its curb ramps, open spaces, accessible street parking plans, and barriers in its public rights of way. It has surveyed accessibility features in the places it conducts it programs services and activities. It is modifying its policy and procedures for building permit hardship requests, and general accessibility grievance procedures. In addition, it is evaluating strategies to make its web site accessible, and to maintain that accessibility in the future.