Patterico's Pontifications


Regulatory Insanity, 1: Poolmageddon

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:05 am

The Obama administration has issued regulations, going into effect today, requiring 300,000 public swimming pools to install permanent fixed lifts to lower wheelchair-bound swimmers into the water.

Cost? $8000-$20,000 per lift. Likely result? Public swimming pools will close throughout the country.

The administration’s promise not to enforce the rule — for now! — means little, because the ADA can be privately enforced.

The story reminded me of another story about regulatory madness that I have been meaning to share with you. But I have to clear the details with the reader who wrote me about it. He is at the mercy of the regulators in his county and fearful that he will be identified, so I have to tell the story in a way that protects him. Or her.

Okay, him.

Stay tuned.

47 Responses to “Regulatory Insanity, 1: Poolmageddon”

  1. I’m wondering who is getting rich from this. Probably a company owned by George Soros.

    Daryl Herbert (26f6d6)

  2. It’s for the children!

    DRJ (a83b8b)

  3. How do they swim in wheelchairs?

    Reminds me of a strip club I knew. They had a special VIP area in the back with a glassed-in shower room where you could watch the stripper(s) of your choice get nice and clean. Well, the shower room fell under handicap regs because it sat on a raised section of flooring that was only accessible by climbing about 4 or 5 steps. You could not drive a wheelchair up them. The shower room was eventually shut down because installing an elevator for handicapped strippers was too expensive. It was nice while it lasted though.

    EC (dda60e)

  4. Obama just sent a signal to ADA abusing attorneys and people across the country. It’s Open Season on Public Pools for tort money harvesters.

    And yea, I’ll say it. All you gimps are going get is fewer public pools.

    SGT Ted (5d10ae)

  5. The ADA is something Republicans went along with.

    It has its merits, but good intentions aren’t good enough.

    It’s a shame that government keeps searching for more problems to solve. We’d be better off if they would leave us alone.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  6. ADA lawsuits are big business here in the PRC…

    not only are you guaranteed a payout under state laws, but you are also awarded fees.

    there is one lawyer here in town who has his own stable of “victims” who serially file cases with him. they even kickback most of the fine they are paid to the shyster, so he collects on both ends.

    redc1c4 (403dff)

  7. Plainly dismantling government for government’s sake will have to begin with defunding vast swathes of the Soviet empire and force the Politburo to cut its own workforce.

    Doubtless, the Judicial Branch will revolt and outlaw cuts which must then be met with by closures.

    But there is no way to reform, rewrite, or abandon hundreds of thousands of regulations in the time frame that is necessary.

    gary gulrud (1de2db)

  8. here’s a relatively cheap one you can get but it only holds up to 400 pounds, which is probably not enough in America

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  9. even this snazzy one from sears has a 400 pound limit – that is so discriminatory against your more plump handicapped people

    there oughta be a law

    happyfeet (3c92a1)

  10. It is a right to be able to swim. Someone needs to testify on Capital Hill STAT!!!

    I read that the lifts themselves can be dangerous because kids will inevitably play on them. But, the more kids that get hurt means the more lifts we will need!

    Noodles (3681c4)

  11. because the ADA can be privately enforced.
    More precisely, the ADA can be used as the pretext for nuisance lawsuits, as has already been pointed out in previous comments.
    He is at the mercy of the regulators in his county
    I’d like to riff of the way you phrased that (this applies whether or not the horror story involved only state and local regulation) State and local regulations can be worse than federal regulations in terms of their intrusiveness and negative effects. Often they are put into effect on the excuse that neighboring property values need to be protected, but their infringements on liberty and property can be worse, and often they get enforced more zealously because the local regulators can spot and enforce local violations more vigorously than a centralized bureaucrat.

    Getting rid of them is really just as important as trimming the CFR down to the size of a “young adult” novel.

    JBS (622d7f)

  12. ____________________________________________

    The ADA is something Republicans went along with.

    I recall the warnings about the legal shenanigans that would ensue if the legislation were signed into law. But George Bush Sr (who activated the law back in the late 1980s) — and regrettably most people in general — believe that even if the road to hell is paved with good intentions, good intentions nonetheless are all that’s required. And the group that will drive down that road the fastest and with the biggest smile on their face are ambulance-chasing lawyers and their clients.

    Mark (411533)

  13. I understand the good intentions behind the ADA.

    I worked (volunteered) on the playground plans for two different elementary schools, in two different states. Both times, the parent teacher organizations did all the fundraising for the school, all the contracting, hired the design firms, etc. All with donated money and volunteered time. And yet we had to comply with all of the ADA regulations, which added thousands of dollars to the cost. We had to have x number of wheelchair-accessible amusements, and structures had to be built with space and ramps for wheelchairs. At neither of these schools were there any students in wheelchairs, and both schools and ample space for free play.
    So it was our money, our time, and yet the government had the right to tell us how we had to spend more of it.

    MayBee (081489)

  14. And dammit, if you have wheels for legs, park at the far side of the parking lot. Seriously, you don’t even walk. Give those permits to the folks with 15 kids. Ha! That’s what we need! The Mormon And Catholic Families Act of 2012 will make sure that your kids aren’t running frantically all over the parking lot.

    Anyone? Beuller?

    Ghost (6f9de7)

  15. It gets worse. I got to tour the Denver Bronco’s visitor’s locker room a few years ago. To comply with the ADA, a professional football organization had to install a wheelchair accessible locker. I guess in anticipation of the first professional football player who’s confined to a wheelchair.

    Now I doubt anyone is against making a business accessible to people in wheelchairs. And ok, give them the parking spots closest to the story. I don’t mind walking a few extra feet. I’m just glad I can walk. But come on, have some common sense as well.

    rbj (9ae8d9)

  16. Our town must have foreseen this as they closed all the pools but two some years ago.

    Andy (b63f79)

  17. There was a piece in USA Today this week that pointed out that a lot of the problem is that the DOJ is giving out ambiguous advice as to whether or not a portable lift is sufficient or a permanent lift is required.

    More examples of the government’s war on business.

    When it makes more sense not to offer an amenity to anyone because you can’t offer it to everyone, then the law is broken. That’s not increasing access.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  18. This comes about because society is unwilling to say ‘sorry, but tough cookies’ to those who are in any way ‘different’, and especially so if it is a way that we’re accustomed to seeing as needing help.

    As a group, we’re not willing to stand up and says ‘we’re sorry, but we’re not going to make accommodations so you can swim’… or ‘sorry, but we’re not going to retrofit every intersection to put the little rubber bumps on the sidewalk’… or ‘we’re sorry, but we’re not going to pay your medical bills because you’re fat and out of shape and have spent your money on cigarettes and booze’… or ‘we’re sorry, but we’re not going to give you extra time to take an exam because you feel pressured when pushed for time’.

    Sure, we feel good taking care of those less fortunate, but then we balk at the bill for doing so. We can’t have it both ways. If we don’t want to pay the bill, step up and tell the handicapped guy that life ain’t fair and he’s just SOL.

    steve (369bc6)

  19. I recall reading that when it became clear that communties would have to allow blacks to use public swimming pools, many were closed and filled in (Wouldn’t have been a problem under Bell).

    Money will not be a problem because Obama will propose a grant to do the work. After all, its only USD 240 million to USD 600 million.

    3. Federalism: Its not just the installation of the lifts. Its what is behind the lifts that matters. A whole raft of federal regulations covering the operaion of swimming pools which will probably require trained staff, not just to operate the lifts but, to look after the handicapped while they are in the pool.

    I can see a whole new unionized workforce to add to the babysitters already being unionized and the soon to be unionized home care workers.

    Davod (8bf616)

  20. People never know what to do with the handicapped stall in public restrooms, either. Nobody’s sure if you are supposed to leave it empty, like a handicap parking space, or if it’s ok to use but it’s equipped for people in wheelchairs.
    This weird groupthink gets going if a few women won’t go into the handicapped stall even if there is a line. Everyone follows suit and leaves that stall empty, afraid to be that person.

    MayBee (081489)

  21. PS. I should say that I live in a wheel chair and would benefit from a lift in every pool. But, I also know (As alluded n 19)that a lift would not help me unless there is someone to help me in the change room, then on and off the lift and in and out of the pool.

    This almost looks like a pay off to the ADA tort bar.

    Davod (8bf616)

  22. How could I be so silly. Obama’s after the handicapped vote.

    Davod (8bf616)

  23. the handicapped stall is so luxurious you can just relax in there or cook up some methamphetamine or perform interpretive dance or even use it as an office if for some reason you get locked out of yours

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  24. An ADA footnote: During a trip to Disneyland in 2005 I asked an employee what had happened to the Skyway. She said there were several issues but the final straw was there was no viable plan for making it ADA compliant. It was shut down in late 1994.

    foxbat (816410)

  25. Is it fair for pools to lack access for those who cannot swim?

    Dustin (401f3a)

  26. Yes this is crazy. I hope this is an election issue voters can identify with.

    Random (38d59c)

  27. Nice one, EC. I wonder if that strip club could have gotten around the regs the same way Hooters does?

    (The Hooters girls are actually ‘models’, not waitresses, and so can be hired or fired on the basis of looks. They aren’t particularly required to serve food if they don’t want to, but it’s a good way to get tips.)

    luagha (5cbe06)

  28. I got to tour the Denver Bronco’s visitor’s locker room a few years ago. To comply with the ADA, a professional football organization had to install a wheelchair accessible locker. I guess in anticipation of the first professional football player who’s confined to a wheelchair.

    The key to acceptance of ADA was its “reasonable accommodation” requirement. A business was not forced to install equipment for every conceivable disability, but only “reasonable” ones. Of course regulators and lawyers soon ran out of reasonable things to require and started pushing the envelope.

    We are well and truly into the Silly Season. The ADA needs to be reformed to allow the equivalent of a SLAPP defense against silly or improbable ADA demands.

    The regulation issue is not confined to ADA — there is a general lack of checks and balance once Congress hands these powers off to the executive branch. These agencies seem to attract the more extreme zealots for much the same reason Willy Sutton robbed banks: that’s where the power is.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  29. What if you’re an obese alcoholic (which could be classified as a disability)? Will the pool be obligated to provide a couple of people to swim with you so you don’t drown?

    Patricia (e1d89d)

  30. If a hotel has a pool and a hot tub, they have to provide separate lifts.

    How can DOJ claim they wont be enforcing a law that they are tasked with enforcing?

    JD (318f81)

  31. They won’t prosecute anyone . . . who happens to make a nice campaign contribution to a certain candidate.

    rbj (9ae8d9)

  32. There used to be an ad where a guy, sitting at a computer, declares to his wife, “I’m done. I’ve finished the internet.” I thought it was so funny.

    It would be just as funny with regulators. “I’m done. I’ve finished making regulations.”

    MayBee (081489)

  33. I hope you’re wrong, rbj, but that sure is how it works out sometimes. We wind up having so many strange laws that everyone is in violation and we’re all at the mercy of prosecutorial discretion.

    If you wanted to run a major company without greasing the wheels by charming politicians, you would never get past all the red tape. America is not the country it should be.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  34. “ADA”

    A bad law, and unconstitutional.

    Lefties love it.

    Dave Surls (46b08c)

  35. I agree the ADA is not constitutional. I happen to like many aspects of it. It makes me a bit of a hypocrite, I guess. But it’s not the federal government’s place to tell me I need to accommodate their vision of a world where handicaps don’t matter as much.

    I still think it’s good to accommodate people. Give the blind a braile ATM and have accessible bathrooms and the like. But the federal government is not the best approach. I’d rather the states handle this in different ways, and by the power of results people encourage the solutions that work the best.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  36. The point has been made, but not enough. We can thank Bush Sr. and Bob Dole for this nonsense. You know, the go along, get along types who don’t have the stomach for the fight.

    We’re about to nominate one.

    foxbat (816410)

  37. The Americans for Disabilities Act needs to be amended. It’s too strict.

    because the ADA can be privately enforced.

    Unless you are a member of the Mafia.

    For most people:


    Brooklyn amputee’s sue spree against businesses that aren’t handicapped accessible

    …..The Brooklyn resident, who lost his legs after a car accident seven years ago, files lawsuits at the rate of about one a day, hitting businesses ranging from a Brooklyn Dunkin’ Donuts to Louis Vuitton in SoHo to Midtown’s Lace strip club. He rolls down the street, block by block, looking for places that can’t let him inside

    Read more:

    If however somebody is amember of the Mafia:

    Disabled woman sues alleged mob king’s bagel shop
    Monday, February 06, 2012
    A disabled woman suing the owner of a Brooklyn bagel shop may have bitten off more than she can chew.

    Maryann Santiago has filed a lawsuit accusing Bagels Plus in Bensonhurst of multiple violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

    The shop’s owner, Vincent (Vinny TV) Badalamenti, also happens to be the reputed boss of the Bonanno crime family.

    Maryann Santiago withdraws lawsuit against reputed mobster and Brooklyn bagel shop owner Vincent Badalamenti

    But amputee won’t back down from suits from 2 other eateries

    By John Marzulli / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012, 12:15 AM

    The disabled woman who filed a discrimination suit against a Bensonhurst bagel shop owned by a reputed gangster had an apologetic message Monday for the Bonanno big’s lawyer: Fuggedaboudit.

    Maryann Santiago withdrew the Brooklyn Federal Court suit against Bagels Plus the same day The News reported on page 1 she was suing “Boss of All Bagels” Vincent Badalamenti.

    She is not backing down from two other suits against nearby Dragon Garden restaurant and Angelina’s pizzeria that cite alleged violations of the Americans With Disabilities Act

    An amputee who uses a wheelchair, she was seeking only $500 in damages, but her lawyer Bradley Weitz could be entitled to much more lucrative legal fees if he prevails in the other suits.

    “This appears to be some form of a scam,” said Badalamenti’s lawyer, Ronald Fischetti.

    He said Weitz contacted his office twice to confirm Badalamenti was aware the suit was being dropped.

    “He said it was going away as if it never happened” and that “she (Santiago) doesn’t want to make any ruckus,” Fischetti said.

    Weitz did not return calls for comment.

    He and Santiago also filed six suits against local merchants in 2010 alleging the disabled were being denied access. Weitz is asking the judge for $19,827 in legal fees in a suit against a nail salon, according to court papers. The other cases appear to have been settled.

    Santiago appeared surprised when told Sunday by The News that the feds allege Badalamenti is a high-ranking mob boss.

    She claimed in her complaint the bagel shop’s counters, cash register, shelves and display cases were too high and not in compliance with federal law. The bagel shop also has a step at the front entrance which cannot be mounted by a wheelchair.

    Badalamenti, nicknamed “Vinny TV” for an appliance store he once owned, was indicted last month on racketeering and extortion charges, and is being held without bail.

    Joe, the manager at Bagels Plus, said there have never been any complaints from disabled persons about access to the store, and Fischetti said he believes the shop may be exempt from the ADA.

    Asked if he had any idea why the suit was dropped and not the two others, he said, “People can assume whatever they want. This is America.”

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  38. Handicapped bathrooms I think can be used by anyone, just like wheelchair accessible ATM machines. Of course, for the rare person, it might be the only one they could use. Treat like business priority lines in banks. I don’t see how anyone could claim otherwise.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  39. Handicapped bathrooms I think can be used by anyone,

    It never hurts to ask.

    OK, it does. But it would be funny.

    Dustin (401f3a)

  40. If a hotel has a pool and a hot tub, they have to provide separate lifts.

    — Hotel pools aren’t public, silly goose

    Icy (02b509)

  41. wait’ll the first time someone lowers a powered wheelchair into a pool…

    not *that* will be a law suit. 8)

    redc1c4 (403dff)

  42. everything else in a hotel has to be ADA compliant, so you can rest assured that motels and hotels will have to comply with this or close their pools.

    lose/lose for them, regardless.

    more liabilities or less amenities: just what this booming economic recovery needs, a little dampening down to keep it from running away completely.

    redc1c4 (403dff)

  43. Poor Shiela Jackson Lee. She went into an absolute meltdown when Houston announced it was closing 7 public swimming pools due to Houston city budget cuts. Of course, Jackson Lee wanted the rest of the nation to pay for them as she took to the floor of the House to tell us all how swimming pools prevented gang membership.

    Well, Marathon Oil and Conoco rushed to Jackson Lee’s rescue donating $350,000.00 to keep the 7 pools open. Now the oil backers are going to have to pony up another $140,000.00 to install handicapped ramps in those pools.

    But remember, it’s for all those handicapped kids. It’s always for the “chil-ren” according to Sheila Jackson Lee who has suffered massive brain damage from her too-tight weave.

    retire05 (a4365a)

  44. If a hotel has a pool and a hot tub, they have to provide separate lifts.

    – Hotel pools aren’t public, silly goose

    Comment by Icy — 3/15/2012 @ 1:05 pm

    Public accommodations, no?

    JD (d246fe)

  45. Hotel pools are offered to all members of the paying public. If they aren’t covered by this rule, they will be by the next one. Hotels are already required to provide some rooms and other facilities for the disabled. This won’t be any different just because it’s stupid.

    Kevin M (bf8ad7)

  46. What will be interesting to see is when inner-city pools that provide recreation for typically a population of minority residents, close, due to the exorbitant cost to meet ADA standards. This could be perceived as a form of economic discrimination toward minorities; and yet it is because of another protected class of people that it’s being done for. Interesting dilemma.

    Dana (4eca6e)

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