DanvilleSanRamon.com

Newsfront - May 25, 2007

Danville being sued for lack of curb cuts in sidewalks

All Contra Costa cities are included in lawsuit

by Jordan M. Doronila

Three people who use wheelchairs are suing Danville and 18 other cities in Contra Costa County for allegedly having sidewalks without curb cuts.

Gloria Vaughn, Yvonne White and George Louie, who all use wheelchairs, filed a civil complaint in January against Danville and the others. They claimed the cities contain several sidewalks without any curb cuts, which make them inaccessible for the disabled.

Earlier this month, they submitted specific lists of streets and intersections that are inaccessible to wheelchair users, to each city in the complaint.

"We are trying to figure out what's there," said Danville Town Attorney Rob Ewing.

State and federal laws say all sidewalks in every city should have curb cuts. But when the curb cuts are constructed depends on each case, Ewing said. Danville already has them at most busy intersections downtown and also near schools and public facilities.

The complaint cites 31 intersections in Danville that have no curb cuts, including the corner of Danville Boulevard and El Portal Road. However, Ewing said, some on the list have no sidewalks. He noted town staff is still calibrating the sidewalks listed in the suit that may or may not need cuts.

Morse Mehrban, a Los Angeles lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said his clients have complained about several sidewalks in cities in the county that lack curb cuts, but nothing was done.

"Basically, these curbs and ramps - they have no way of getting on them," Mehrban said. "My understanding is that they have been complaining with no responses."

He said he wants the lawsuit settled without going to trial. The case's hearing is next month.

"Hopefully, we can resolve this," Mehrban said. "We just want to get the cuts on the curbs so they can get on it."

Vaughn and White are from Richmond, and Louie, who is affiliated with the nonprofit group Americans with Disabilities Advocates, is from Yolo County, he said.

Mehrban's clients filed the complaint in January and filed another earlier in May with more details of what intersections and roads had sidewalks that lacked curb cuts.

They named all the cities in Contra Costa County and some in Alameda County. In addition to Danville, the suit has named Antioch, Brentwood, Clayton, Concord, El Cerrito, Hercules, Lafayette, Martinez, Moraga, Oakley, Orinda, Pinole, Pittsburg, Pleasant Hill, Richmond, San Pablo, San Ramon and Walnut Creek as defendants.

The cities all are being represented by Gene Elliot of Bertrand, Fox & Elliot law firm in San Francisco.

Elliot declined to comment on the case.

"It would not be appropriate," he said. "We'll see what happens."

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