San Diego

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Accessibility Requirements for Townhouses

(Effective July 1, 2005): The California Building Standards Commission adopted new emergency regulations that amend Chapter 11A of the 2001 California Building Code to conform to recently passed legislation in Senate Bill 1025 that was signed into law in 2004.

The new requirements require a minimum of ten percent, but not less than one, of covered Multistory Dwellings, in buildings with 3 or more dwelling units or condominiums with 4 or more dwelling units, and which are located on the ground floor of buildings without elevators for which an application for a construction permit is submitted on or after July 1, 2005 to comply with the following:

  1. The primary entry to the dwelling unit shall be on an accessible route unless exempted by site impracticality tests.
  2. At least one powder room or bathroom shall be located on the primary entry level served by an accessible route and shall be accessible. In addition some accessible habitable space shall be provided on the primary entry level.
  3. All rooms or spaces located on the primary entry level shall be served by an accessible route of travel and shall be accessible. Rooms and spaces located on the primary entry level and subject to the requirements may include but are not limited to kitchens, powder rooms, bathrooms, living rooms, bedrooms, or hallways.
  4. Common use areas such as common parking areas, recreation areas shall be accessible as required by chapter 11A. Public use areas shall be accessible as is required in Chapter 11 A and 11B.

CARRIAGE UNITS are exempt from the new regulations. A carriage unit is a dwelling unit with living space on one or more floors immediately above a Group U, Division 1, private garage which serves only that unit. The footprint of the garage is used as the footprint for the remaining floor or floors of the dwelling units above and the garage level contains no habitable space. Dwelling units located over a common garage shall not be considered carriage units.

Where units are located above grade, such as townhouse construction on top of a common garage, an accessible route of travel via ramp or elevator is required to the entry level and 10% of the multi-story dwellings with entry doors on that elevated level shall comply with the new regulations.

Construction permit applications submitted on or after the effective date will have to comply with the new construction codes as well as approved amendments in the San Diego Municipal Code. Construction permit applications that are closed when a permit is not issued within 360 days of the initial application file date must be resubmitted as required in Section §129.0211 "Closing of Building Permit Application" of the San Diego Municipal Code. The department will determine the applicable code based on the acceptance date of the submitted permit application and associated plans and documents. Permit applications submitted prior to the effective date of the new construction code will be processed under the existing code.

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