Department of Justice, Port of Edmonds resolve complaint regarding ADA violations

The U.S. Department of Justice and the Port of Edmonds have resolved a complaint by a port customer that the port violated the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) when it altered the parking lot at the port marina and failed to provide appropriate accessible parking spaces.

As part of the settlement, the Port of Edmonds will pay the customer who made the complaint $3,522 for discrimination and inability to use the marina.

“This resolution is a good reminder that federal law requires full and equitable access. It is not enough to simply designate a parking space with a blue accessible parking marker—that space must also have special characteristics that will allow those with mobility issues to enjoy full access,” said U.S. Attorney Nick Brown. “Once our office became involved, the Port of Edmonds quickly reconfigured their spaces with appropriate space and access aisles so that the spaces were usable by those using assistive devices such as walkers or wheelchairs.”

According to the settlement agreement, in February 2021 the Port of Edmonds reconfigured its parking lot and constructed a dumpster area where accessible parking had been. Soon after the work, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said, the complainant notified the Port of Edmonds that the new configuration violated the ADA but the port did not make any changes.

On Aug. 12, 2021, a representative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office viewed the marina’s north and south parking areas. The review found multiple violations of the ADA including a lack of aisle space next to the accessible parking spaces, and no designated van accessible parking spaces. The U.S. Attorney’s Office concluded the parking area did not comply with the ADA.

After receiving notice of non-compliance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Port of Edmonds quickly made changes, the Department of Justice announcement said. By Aug.31, 2021, the port reconfigured its parking areas to include accessible spaces with access aisles and designated van accessible areas. The accessible parking spaces were moved to shorten the distance to port facilities.

In response to the settlement announcement, Port of Edmonds Executive Director Bob McChesney noted that the port “has a dual obligation to provide safe public access along the existing marina promenade, and unencumbered ADA accessibility to marina facilities.” In 2021, McChesney explained, the port constructed two new trash/recycle enclosures in a parking lot between Edmonds Yacht Club and Arnie’s restaurant “in order to move certain marina-related appurtenances off the boardwalk and into a more suitable location; ie. garbage and recycle bins and dock carts that created unsafe clutter by the lack of proper containment facilities.

“Regrettably and inadvertently, the new enclosures dislocated two previously identified ADA parking stalls,” McChesney said.

Once the port customer filed a complaint with the Department of Justice, “the port did not dispute the issue and took immediate corrective action to remediate the violation,” McChesney added. “The Port of Edmonds is fully committed to providing safe and ADA-compliant facilities to all of our customers and visiting public.”

According to the Department of Justice announcement, the port has agreed to designate an ADA coordinator, and place signs throughout its facilities identifying the ADA coordinator and how he or she can be contacted. The coordinator will be responsible for investigating any complaints regarding discrimination against individuals with disabilities.

In addition to paying the complainant who could not use port facilitiess, the port agreed in the settlement not to retaliate in any way against anyone who brings a complaint regarding ADA access.

The Port of Edmonds will certify its compliance with the ADA to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the office will monitor compliance for two years following the settlement.  If no further issues arrive, the matter will be closed.


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