In a very disappointing last minute decision, the Department of Justice (DOJ) granted the hotel industry a 60-day extension on the implementation of the new access regulations for pools and hot tubs. Scheduled to go into effect on March15, 2012 the new rules will now become the law of the land on May 15, 2012.
Of will they?
There’s more than meets the eye on this 60-day extension, as the short paragraph at the end of a DOJ press release indicates.
“Requirements for existing swimming pools will be extended for 60 days. The department will also publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking with a 15-day comment period on a possible six-month extension in order to allow additional time to address misunderstandings regarding compliance with these ADA requirements.”
OK folks the 60-day things seems incredulous to me, but the hotel lobby worked long and hard on that one. In fact the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) posted a form letter on their website and encouraged members to sign, click and send it to their congress person.
And they did in droves.
Why? Well the contention is that they don’t understand the rule and that the DOJ didn’t answer their request for clarification in a timely manner. But the truth is, they didn’t like how the DOJ answered their clarification request.
They take issue with having to have fixed lifts, as they want portable ones. The fixed lift requirement was put in so people could have independent access. As you all know portable lift are sometimes hard to find, and many times they just don’t work. So that clause eliminated that problem. Should people really have to beg just to take a quick dip in the pool? I think not.
Truth be told, these rules were crafted two years ago. I read them and I understood them. And if you want to split hairs, the ADA was enacted 22 years ago. Need I say more?
In any case, there will apparently be another public comment period for this issue (remember we already had one when the original rules were crafted) and that could lead to public hearings and more delays. The hotel industry could very well drag this on for a few more years.
I remember back when the over-the-road bus regulations were being challenged by the motor coach industry (another powerful lobby). In the end the Department of Transportation said the proposed rules would go into effect as written and that buses would have to have lifts and tie-downs and passengers could not be carried aboard. And this was thanks to a very successful grassroots “We Will Ride” campaign.
Right now we need a “We Will Swim” campaign, because the AHLA has the means and the manpower to block this rule from ever being implemented.
What can we do? Make your opinion known in the public comment period. Remember, the DOJ puts more weight on consumer comments than on industry comments, so it is possible to change the tide here.
Stay tuned to find out how to make your voice be heard. I’ll post a link here as soon as the public comments open.
And tell a friend — or two!