Disability Rights Groups Sue Long Beach Over Wheelchair Access

"I often feel unsafe," says one motorized wheelchair user.

Photo Credit: Nassau County Police Department.
Photo Credit: Nassau County Police Department.

Disability rights groups filed suit today against the city of Long Beach, alleging discrimination against residents and visitors with mobility impairments.

The proposed class-action lawsuit, lodged in Los Angeles federal court, seeks to compel the city to ensure that those with mobility disabilities are able to safely travel on the city's sidewalks.

Five named plaintiffs with mobility disabilities contend that the city of Long Beach has refused to create accessible pedestrian rights-of-way or to maintain public sidewalks, unfairly preventing them from being independent and fully-functioning members of the city.

Plaintiff Hector Ochoa, who uses a motorized wheelchair and resides in Long Beach-adjacent Signal Hill, said he is "frustrated that I cannot reliably travel around Long Beach in my chair."

"I often feel unsafe, and it upsets me that people like myself who need chairs or other devices to get around don't have the same freedom to go where they need to when they need to," he said.

The lawsuit, brought by the Disability Rights Legal Center and Disability Rights Advocates, alleges the city is in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act by discriminating against residents and visitors with mobility impairments.

According to the plaintiffs, numerous Long Beach sidewalks and crosswalks have unsafe and hazardous slopes, uplifted and/or deteriorated sections, or are blocked by poles, trees and other obstructions making them too narrow for wheelchairs.

As a result, the lawsuit contends, people with mobility disabilities are restricted in their travel to work, restaurants, medical appointments and visits with family and friends.

--City News Service


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