11B-203.3 Raised Area Exception???

Would the "experts" on this forum care to weigh-in on whether or not the second floor of this facility, a "Marine Safety Center", would meet the 11B-203.3 exception and not be required to provide an accessible route to the floor? The second floor is used "primarily" by lifeguards to observe the activities going on at a local beach. Keep in mind  that this is a publically funded project, so no elevator exemption allowed.

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If this is a law enforcement office with sworn officers only occupying the second floor, you may have a case for arguing approval. In question will be the "admin" area on the second floor, if staff is not completely able body sworn officers, then access is required as a place of employment.

It is hard to imagine any scenario in which all persons that are not sworn fully able-bodied officers would be entirely excluded from accessing a level of a building.  I can imagine many other categories of persons that would have to access the area over time... such as support personnel, maintenance staff, inspection/repair personnel, etc.  

Room call-outs on the plan include admin and dispatch.  Are disabled individuals prohibited from holding those jobs (sworn or not)?  What about the 'captain' that might be a senior level administrative/management employee position that could be held by a disabled staff member?

Lastly, when developing a building for any specific purpose it is prudent to keep in mind that uses/occupancies can change over time.  With that in mind, even if an exception could be upheld for the initial contemplated use, it would be smart to have a plan B for adding an accessible route in future.  

If asked, I would counsel the owner that (as a matter of both prudence and ethics) level 2 should be made accessible as part of the original design/construction, regardless of wishful thinking that an 'exception' can be argued.

I hear this argument  time and again, and wonder why it is so difficult to understand that the intent of this civil rights law is to open up areas of employment, commerce and civic engagement to people with various abilities and disabilities. Also, does no one understand that an "able bodied sworn officer" might become disabled, and could therefore be eligible for a whole variety of positions needing his or her expertise and experience but might not require being "able bodied?"

In addition, exclusions like this are also used as an excuse to make upper floors inaccessible to a whole range of disabilities. You can lack the ability to use upper body strength or dexterity, to see or to hear, or even to walk much of the time, and still get upstairs, so even if an elevator is not required, upper floors should still be fully accessible, even to those who use wheelchairs. 

Thank you Jim, Howard and Sharon for sharing your opinions. I am basically acting as the AHJ for access compliance on this project and unfortunately there seems to be a good deal of political pressure to have me accept this design with the 11B-203.3 exception. However, my position on this is pretty much in lock-step with Howard and Sharon.

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