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AH&LA Urges DOJ to Retract the Jan. 31, 2012 Pool Lift Requirements Document

Stating that the DOJ Did Not Follow Proper Procedures when Altering the Requirements

Over 1,200 Comments Filed in Favor of Delay and Portable Lifts

Washington, D.C., April 4, 2012
– The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) today filed comments with the Department of Justice (DOJ) on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requesting a delay to the pool lift requirement under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Within the comments, AH&LA expressed concern that DOJ violated the notice and comment procedures of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA) by issuing substantive new requirements that (1) pool lifts must be “fixed” or “built-in”; (2) pool lifts must be at poolside and ready for use at all times when the pool is open; and (3) a pool lift cannot serve more than one pool or spa. These requirements were never raised for public comment by DOJ at any point in the rulemaking process.

“The response from affected hoteliers, small businesses, and community pools has been tremendous,” said AH&LA President/CEO Joe McInerney. “AH&LA agrees that facilities should be accessible, with hoteliers committed to serving the needs of guests with disabilities. Delaying the untenable compliance date and allowing portable lifts will provide pool operators time to implement the necessary changes without the fear of lawsuits.”

Since DOJ did not follow APA procedures, AH&LA urges DOJ to retract the Jan. 31, 2012, Pool Lift Requirements Document, replace it with one that allows the use of portable lifts that can be brought out upon request and shared between two pools or a pool and a spa in the same area, and set a new compliance deadline that takes into account the number of lifts that can be manufactured and the number of pools and spas that must be equipped. Alternatively, DOJ could stay the compliance deadline for all swimming pools, spas, and wading pools, and issue an NPRM proposing the new requirements so that interested parties may have an opportunity to comment on these issues for the very first time.

The U.S. Small Business Administration joined the over 1,200 comments filed requesting a delay in implementation and submitted a letter in support of the industry’s position. The Real Estate Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Pool and Spa Professionals, National Apartment Association, National Multi Housing Council, Asian American Hotel Owners Association, International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions, and the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds also submitted comments seeking a delay and raising safety concerns of installing permanent lifts.

“It is my professional opinion that the lift becomes a device which children and other guests will climb onto, jump and possibly dive from, into the shallow water,” according to aquatic safety expert Michael Oostman in submitted comments. “This situation would create a large risk exposure for catastrophic injuries… having investigated the human factors and conditions that contributed to more than 600 accidents, requiring pool lifts to be fixed and next to the pools and spas at all times when the facilities are open raises serious safety concerns that must be studied.”

While AH&LA is seeking a common-sense solution to the pool lift issue, the lodging industry is supportive of the numerous provisions of the ADA that took effect March 15, 2012. Hoteliers are committed to complying with Americans with Disabilities Act and serving the needs of the disability community.

About the AH&LA

Serving the hospitality industry for a century, AH&LA is the sole national association representing all sectors and stakeholders in the lodging industry, including individual hotel property members, hotel companies, student and faculty members, and industry suppliers. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AH&LA provides members with national advocacy on Capitol Hill, public relations and image management, education, research and information, and other value-added services to provide bottom-line savings and ensure a positive business climate for the lodging industry. Partner state associations provide local representation and additional cost-saving benefits to members.

Eric Reller
(202) 289-3122

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Also See: AH&LA Supports Legislation Providing a One Year Delay for the ADA Pool Lift Requirement; Additionally Will Allow Use of Portable Lifts and Sharing Lifts Between Pools / March 2012

AH&LA Secures Compromise on ADA Pool Lift Requirement; White House Responds to Lodging Industry’s Appeals with a 60-day Extension of Compliance Due Date / March 2012

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