Recently, through a very convoluted route, members of the disability community have become aware that Supervisor David Chiu is AGAIN both crafting legislation that directly affects people with disabilities AND is seeking feedback -- from business groups. But as with some of his earlier legislation, this also is being done without ever widely & directly contacting people with disabilities for feedback.
This seems part of an ongoing trend at City Hall recently -- turning inside out the disability mantra: "Not for us without us" to instead be "ABOUT them, but WITHOUT them." Two earlier bits of legislation also followed this approach -- develop legislation based on what able-bodied people want, solicit input from non-disabled groups, and then -- maybe -- pass it to one [ and only one ] staffer at the Mayor's Office on Disability.
Supe. Chiu's MUNI resolution about baby-stroller & front seats and his earlier work on requiring better signage for public open space in private buildings both missed the mark, as for communications directly with a wide variety of interested parties.
His actions to get the Supes. to press MTA to make it easier for people to sit up front with young children and to have strollers is having exactly the results that people with disabilities predicted-- and are complaining about. Strollers are allowed to be opened out, up front, and adults with children ranging from 3 to 8 years old are allowed to sit up front, in the seats meant to be yielded to seniors and people with disabilities. This is because too many somehow feel that whatever San Francisco government does can supersede even the Code of Federal Regulations provision that is posted and cited on MUNI busses.
Earlier, the legislation to address improvements in posting notices of public open spaces on private buildings was done without input from or awareness of overriding requirements for accessibility of signage and information thereon. Only after the Mayor's Office on Disability was notified, by a well-known disability advocate, of this matter did MOD become aware -- and get involved. Fortunate that MOD did, since some key information about size of type and heights of notices to be posted was not present in a draft about to be considered by Planning Commission.
This current legislation Supe. Chiu is sponsoring, about improvements on notices for disability access compliance, will tentatively be heard in committee this coming Monday, 23 July.
Yet though other groups have had time to review, analyze, and comment on it, it has yet to be directly provided to:
* the Mayor's Disability Council,
* various well-known agencies working for / with people with disabilities,
* well-known advocates from within the disability communities.
The intent of this legislation is to address some of the problems with facilities that aren't as accessible and compliant as they ought to be --which can be viewed as positive.
Yet, the content of this legislation is very tentative, due to the possible but unknown effects of changes in state law and San Francisco Planning Code Amendments.
Beyond that, this draft has lots of additions and strike-outs for anyone, ESPECIALLY people with disabilities, to plow through.
While not all people with disabilities may want to review voluminous and complicated text, still some of us have lengthy work history and political experience in amending or killing state regulations and legislation.
If a group as large and diverse as the SF Chamber of Commerce can get asked to analyze and comment on this legislation about disability access compliance, why then was the Mayor's Disability Council and housing organizers for organizations working with / for seniors and people with disabilities left out?
Finally, since the Mayor's Disability Council was left out of consultation on this and earlier legislation, what position will Mayor Lee take?
Will Mayor Lee sign legislation that ignores the people he picked to advise him on disability policy, that bypasses the constituency for whom it is intended to benefit? Will Mayor Lee accept a patronizing attitude to people with disabilities as appropriate for San Francisco and for city government actions?
Stay tuned next Monday to find out whether this trend continues.