Thursday, April 19, 2018

Three (3) day wait for beach wheelchairs in St. Johns County, Florida: ADA violation, insensitivity?

St. Johns County Government still lacks a welcoming spirit.  This is evident in the lack of adequate disabled access to our St. Johns County beaches.

Our wealthy, poorly-run St. Johns County makes disabled people wait three days for a beach wheelchair, which must be requested by telephoning an employee who works only three days each week.  Not an ideal situation.  

A friend and former client has Parkinson's disease and was planning a visit with his family: I was flummoxed when I found out about the three-day rule, administered by a lone employee who works three weekdays.

Here's my letter to Commissioners and the County staff:

-----Original Message-----
From: Ed Slavin
To: bdixon ; bcc5hdean ; bcc1jjohns ; bcc2jsmith ; bcc3pwaldron ; bccd4 ; pmccormack ; mwanchick ; wmith ; bzeitz ; tmeeks ; jdunn ; dfountain
Sent: Thu, Apr 19, 2018 9:01 am
Subject: Re: Request No. 2018-100: ADA violations by St. Johns County, Florida government at 42 miles of beaches? Evaluation of wheelchair access to SJC beaches

Dear Chairman Dean and Commissioners Morris, Waldron, Smith and Johns, Ms. Meeks, Ms. Dixon, Ms. Fountain, Messrs. Smith, Zeitz, Dunn, McCormack and Wanchick: 

1. St. Johns County Government still lacks a welcoming spirit.  This is evident in the lack of adequate disabled access to our St. Johns County beaches.   On my request No. 2018-100, SJC sent two (2) urls, one bearing this statement, possibly violative of the Americans with Disabilities Act:

Beach Wheelchairs
To help make our beaches more accessible, beach wheelchairs are available at no charge, on a first come first serve basis. Please note that three days advance notification is required to reserve a wheelchair. To make a reservation, please contact Danielle Fountain, (904) 209-0752.

2.  Three (3) days advance notice?  Why?  How utterly uninviting and unwelcoming.   The voicemail at 904-209-0752 informs callers that Ms. Fountain is "in the office on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays."  Voicemail gives NO other contact person or name.

3.  A phone number and a name of someone available only on three weekdays?   No location.  No explanation.  How gauche and louche.  Not customer-friendly.  Maladroit.

4. This three-day rule, administered by a three-day-per-week employee, creates and perpetuates a hostile environment for disabled people at our beaches; What defenses has St. Johns County if USDOJ or a disabled person sues the County?

5. St. Johns County's website completesly fails to inform St. Johns County beachgoers of their ADA rights.   

6. Please amend our St. Johns County beaches website to identify appeal rights for disabled persons denied ADA reasonable accommodations at the beach.  

7. Please add a nondiscrimination statement and name an ombuds.  Here's a link to Jacksonville Beach's website:

8. Please end St. Johns County's insensitivity and illegal discrimination against persons with disabilities.   Now.

9. Increasing disabled access to our 42 miles of St. Johns County beaches deserves a place on a future SJC BoCC meeting agenda, and a line item at the Administrator's budget hearing next month. 

10. Here are links to wheelchair access on Cape Cod:   

Please call me to discuss.

Thank you.

With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

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