Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Reston Accessibility Committee 2013 Annual Report

The following report is a summary of the work RCA's Reston Accessibility Committee has achieved in 2013.  It was prepared by RAC Chairman Ken Fredgren.
This is both a progress report and a request for your support of RAC's work.  Included are updates on our disability rights advocacy in Reston and in striving for changes in Virginia's Unified Statewide Building Code (USBC) for improved accessibility for people with mobility disabilities.  The report is divided into four sections - Reston Projects, Statewide Advocacy, Awards Given and Received, and RAC Finances
Reston Projects

Three RAC projects have been completed so far in 2013:
South Lakes Village Center   In response to RAC's suggestions, three existing Accessible Parking Spaces (APSs) were relocated for safety reasons in January.   At the same time, four additional APSs as well as one curb ramp, two detectable warnings, and two crosswalks were completed.  RAC recognized the Center with its Universal Access Leadership Award at a meeting of Rotary Club of Reston in August.

North Point Village Center, BB&T Bank
   APS realignment for safety reasons suggested by RAC as part of the original North Point project (February, 2011) were completed in the bank parking lot in March.  The two APSs were moved to a newly-created level location beside the bank and an improved accessible route provided safe access to the outdoor ATM and the main entrance.  Compliant accessible parking signs were added.

Reston Hospital Center   In April, in response to suggestions from RAC, several APSs were moved to more accessible locations, and a variety of APSs, curb ramps, curb cuts, crosswalks, detectable warnings, and accessible parking signs were added.  RAC recognized the Hospital with its Universal Access Leadership Award at a meeting of Rotary Club of Reston in August.

RAC has six projects in progress:

12007 Sunrise Valley Drive in the Reston Corner office campus   Chris Hembree, VP, Cassidy Turley, has included substantial accessible parking space (APS) and accessible route expenses in the 2014 budget he has submitted to the owner.  This is a long-standing RAC project, but new ownership and new management took control of the property in 2013, and we are hopeful of seeing improvements in 2014.
Hidden Creek Country Club   Victor Rodarte, General Manager, has promised to improve the five existing non-compliant parking spaces for members and guests with mobility disabilities by the end of 2013, and to add two APSs to complete ADA compliance.  The existing spaces have no access aisles and the signs are not compliant with Fairfax County requirements.  Ken Plum and Cathy Hudgins both sent letters to Mr. Rodarte asking him to follow RAC's guidance in updating accessibility. 

Sunrise Valley Center   There are 92 parking spaces and only two are designated as APSs.  There should be four, per ADA and Virginia requirements.  We are hoping that Bill Lauer of Tetra Partnerships, owner of the Center, will respond positively to RAC's suggested accessibility improvements.
Hartke Building, Sunrise Valley Dr at Reston Pkwy   The 54-space parking lot needs three APSs near the main entrance in order to meet ADA requirements.  At present there are none.  The building is owned by Paul and Keith Hartke.
Hunters Woods Village Center   Subsequent to the renovation by the new owner, Edens, about a year ago, Development Manager Reynolds Allen committed to add two APSs at the Ledo's to Dairy Queen side of the parking lot.  The current four APSs are consistently occupied, and Mr. Allen is aware of that.
Carrabba's Italian Grill, Sunset Hills Rd   Both local management and national management have understood the need for additional APSs, but Carrabba's doesn't own the property.  They did immediately replace non-compliant accessible parking signs with compliant signs.  National management wrote a letter to the property owners on November 12, asking them to add at least one APS (required by law), and possibly two (RAC's suggestion). 
Here is the link to the Projects Summary page at our website.  Projects are listed chronologically.

Statewide Advocacy

Del. Ken Plum's bill in support of accessibility, House Joint Resolution 648, passed both Virginia houses in February, 2011.  That resolution mandated the creation of a stakeholders committee to study and make recommendations for improved accessibility in Virginia through the process of code change proposals to Virginia's Unified Statewide Building Code (USBC).  The first committee meeting was in August, 2011, and there were several of those meetings, Commonwealth standing Work Group meetings and Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Board meetings since then.  Someday I'll count the trips to Richmond
Five HJR 648 committee proposals were pursued through the Work Group and Board meetings processes, resulting in several compromise revisions over many months.

In its March and October, 2013 meetings, the DHCD Board approved a total of four of our five proposals, and denied one.  Even though they are described briefly in the next paragraph, consider reading the actual proposals for important details.

Briefly, they include:

-- Revising upward the 22-year-old table prescribing the number of accessible parking spaces required per size of parking lot;
-- Creating a minimum APS requirement for newly-constructed doctors' and dentists' offices;
-- Mandating a minimum 34"-wide passage to specific living areas - bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, living room - on the main level in new residential construction, thus enabling access to critical areas by occupants/visitors using mobility devices; and
-- Specifying all aspects of Universal Design that a builder could use to have his/her new residential construction certified as a UD home by the local jurisdiction.
The governor - Mr. McDonnell or Mr. McAuliffe - will have to sign off on the code changes before the process of making them law can begin.  Once approved by the governor, the DHCD staff is shooting for a July 1, 2014, effective date.

Emory Rogers, Deputy Director of the DHCD and convener of all the Work Group meetings, considers this package a significant coup for Virginia, and he has said he is looking forward to touting it at national conventions of his peers.  If they become law, Virginia will be the first state in the US to have taken these measures.
Awards Given and Received

RAC's Community Partner Award was presented in May to Leila Gordon of Reston Community Center, Milton Matthews of Reston Association, Greg White of Cornerstones, and Sherri Witowski of United Bank.  This award recognizes the exceptional support of individuals in facilitating RAC's mission.
RAC's Universal Access Leadership Award was presented in August to Reston Hospital Center and to South Lakes Village Center "in recognition of the exceptional accessible route improvements for safe and efficacious access for [persons] with mobility disabilities."  This award recognizes the exceptional support of organizations in facilitating RAC's mission.
RAC was honored to be chosen as the 2013 recipient of the Building Safety Community Partnership Award of the Department of Public Works and Environmental Services "for promoting safe access to buildings for people with physical disabilities. . . . The group participated in a state-sponsored study to look at amending the 2012 Uniform Statewide Building Code to make buildings more accessible to people with disabilities and incentivize universal design. . . . The Building Safety Community Partnership Award recognizes significant contributions towards ensuring building and construction safety in Fairfax County. It is presented annually during Building Safety Month." 
RAC Finances

Our 2013 income to date is $604: $170 in membership dues ($10 per year) and $434 in contributions.  Our bank balance is $144.38. 
Typically, RAC's expenses are modest, including infrequent photocopying and printing, certified mail postage, off-the-shelf certificate frames for awards, a banner for out Reston Farmers Market booth, and our Accessibility for All buttons.  (We would be glad for you to have one of the latter.) 
The one unusual expense has been my hotel bills for single-night hotel stays in Richmond, making it possible for me to represent RAC in advocating for the changes to the USBC.  RAC has been able to reimburse me for several trips over the last two years, but there are four remaining (Mar-Oct, 2013), totaling $515.33.  I have contributed meal and gasoline expenses.

RAC is a committee of Reston Citizens Association (RCA), a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization.  In order to help us continue our work on behalf of people with disabilities, RCA and RAC would appreciate any support or contribution that you can give us.  For your consideration, you can download our membership form which doubles as a contribution form.  Checks should be made to RCA/Accessibility, and mailed to me at 2407 Bugle Ln, Reston, VA 20191.


Ken Fredgren
Reston Accessibility Committee (RAC)
of Reston Citizens Association

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