Wheelchair ramp for board chamber put back in motion

Plans to make the Board of Supervisors’ Legislative Chamber completely accessible to officials who use a wheelchair are back in the exact same form they were two years ago.

The president’s dais and desk for the clerk — both of which are not currently in use — need to have a ramp installed to make them fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Two years ago, The City floated a plan to install a ramp, but it was shot down by supervisors.

Then this summer, Newsom, on the anniversary of the ADA, reintroduced the idea of installing the ramp. He pointed out that it was insulting to reject ADA improvements inside the chamber when one supervisor, Michela Alioto-Pier, uses a wheelchair.

“I’m just going to do it,” Newsom said in July. “I’m sick and tired of these excuses. This board has failed by example. You have someone appointed who is in a wheelchair who is a member of that board who cannot access the podium.”

Under the plans, a ramp slope would be added to the west side of the dais and the president’s desk would be lowered by about 18 inches, according to a new memo.

The clerk’s desk will be lowered roughly 6 inches so that it’s level with the main floor of the chamber. It also will be moved closer to the president’s desk so there’s more room for a wheelchair to get to the desk.

On Wednesday, the plans are going before the Historic Preservation Commission, which will ensure that the designs meet certain standards for City Hall.

There’s currently a temporary wheelchair ramp in the chamber, but city officials say it doesn’t meet ADA codes.

“It is not a legal option,” said Susan Mizner, director of the Mayor’s Office of Disability. “We are putting anyone who uses a wheelchair at risk; it would be very easy for someone to tip.”

The price of the project has yet to be determined, but the new funding requirements are projected to be less than $500,000, according to city officials.

esherbert@sfexaminer.com

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