The simple request Giovanni (“Gio”) Guadagnini made of the City of Pacifica could save lives. But city officials insist on continuing to violate federal law while putting our most vulnerable citizens at risk of injury and death.
When a city fails to install the curb cuts required by law, wheelchair users are forced to travel along the side of the road, in the same space as fast moving cars and huge trucks. Tragically, many people have been injured, or even killed, due to the lack of this simple feature that is required by law.
One such person is Gio, who lives in Daly City, on the border of the City of Pacifica. Daly City has been proactive in making its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. The same cannot be said for the City of Pacifica. It appears that the City of Pacifica has adopted a practice and policy of kicking the can down the road with respect to access improvements. This mindset has caused the City to fail to make access improvements that it was legally required to do, to the detriment of the safety of persons with disabilities.
The closest stores to Gio’s home are at the Fairmont Shopping Center on Gateway Drive. However, travel from Gio’s home to the Fairmont Shopping Center takes him along a route that is within the City of Pacifica (highlighted below).
When Gio crosses the boundary line into the City of Pacifica, he runs into a major problem: there are no curb cuts on the street intersections. Due to the lack of curb cuts, Gio is forced to take his electric wheelchair onto the busy Gateway Drive and to navigate the steep slope of a driveway to gain access to the sidewalk.
Forced into harm’s way by the City’s policy while doing common daily errands such as filling a prescription, Gio has sadly experienced firsthand why these curb cuts are required by law. On two occasions Gio fell over on a dangerous cross slope as he tried to use the vehicle driveway on Gateway Drive to get from the street to the sidewalk. Once, in 2014, the injury resulting from the fall was so severe that he had to have total shoulder joint replacement surgery. Gio has almost been hit by fast moving vehicles on at least four occasions. The City of Pacifica has been put on notice of these dangerous conditions and Gio’s injury in 2014, yet it has not done anything to make Gateway Drive accessible.
Gio complained to the City on numerous occasions before his injury. He was told by City personnel that “it’s not in the budget” to install curb cuts. After he was injured, Gio looked for an attorney. He went to three different personal injury attorneys but none of them were able to help him. Successful handling of a case like this requires a knowledge of the implementing regulations under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and few attorneys have that knowledge. Fortunately, Gio finally found the Center for Disability Access (“CDA”), a law firm with unmatched experience litigating access cases for persons with disabilities. CDA will not charge Gio, or any of its clients, anything out-of-pocket. The CDA will seek compensation for Gio’s severe injuries and frustration. Most importantly, the CDA will force the City to comply with the disability access laws, so that Gio and so many like him will never have to be hurt on Gateway Drive again.
If you are a person with a disability and encounter barriers to access, whether policy based or architectural in nature, please do not hesitate to consider your role as an advocate. Your decision to challenge unfair and discriminatory practices benefits numerous people that you will never meet. You have an effective and willing partner in this endeavor. The Center for Disability Access has been litigating these cases for two full decades. Whether it be consultation or representation, we represent our clients for free. Please don’t hesitate to call the Center to explore or discuss any issues that you have encountered.