ADA Parking Space Common Mistakes

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has a variety of requirements that apply to parking lots. Every day I come across parking lots that do not fully meet the ADA’s Federal and State standards and leave the property owner at risk of an ADA lawsuit. In California, all businesses, apartment buildings, shopping centers or buildings that operate as places of public accommodation or commercial facilities must have accessible parking lots and means of accessibility. 


Accessible is the term used and most always means removing existing barriers to access that are readily achievable. Achieving readily achievable compliance might be as simple as restriping a parking lot to create accessible parking spaces and access aisles. However, not all contractors understand the new state laws and regulations that govern ADA Compliance. 


Do you find any violations of the ADA parking space requirements in this picture?




The ADA’s Parking Space Requirements:

The ADA’s parking space requirements are contained in the many documents that are issued by both federal and state ADA agencies. Nothing is black and white about these “requirements” since each property is unique. In California, no property can be considered “grandfathered” and this is a huge mistake many property owners learn the hard way.


Take a closer look at the parking lot in this photo:




There are at least seven violations in this photo.


1. Both disabled parking stalls are missing cross hatched marking identifying access aisles.


2. The existing asphalt surface exceeds 2% max cross slope.


3. The most critical of the citations is that the disabled parking stalls should be located as the


shortest distance to door entries.


4. The path of travel exceeds the 5% slope and the 2% max cross slope


5. The parking stalls are missing a cross hatched path of travel to an accessible curb ramp


allowing access to the sidewalk and ultimately the entry doors. [If a car was parked next to


either of these spots, a disabled person wouldn’t have the room to exit the vehicle]


6. The wheel stops should only be placed if the front end of the car impacts a path of travel.


7. The ADA parking signs are both missing.






Staying Ahead of a Potential Lawsuit


The marked-up photo shows the importance of being aware of the current ADA’s standards. This business and shopping center was involved in an ADA lawsuit and settled. However, the owner hired an inexperienced contractor who convinced them that they would be okay if they merely restriped the area. However, the owner still has multiple corrections and is still open to additional lawsuits. Exercise caution and work with a competent ADA designer/contractor.



Parking Spaces

ADA has requirements and specifications regarding the number of accessible parking spaces required in parking lots and structures and this varies per the property. In the ADA requirements, there is a section that provides a chart which shows the minimum number of accessible parking spaces that must be provided based on the total number of parking spaces in a parking facility. For example, a facility with 51 to 75 parking spaces must provide at least three accessible parking spaces and a facility with 151 to 200 parking spaces must provide six accessible spaces.


Van parking spaces must be made available for every six or fraction of six accessible parking spaces required. So, for parking facilities requiring six or less accessible parking spots, one of these must be a van parking space. If seven accessible parking spaces are required, two must be van accessible. In both the above examples, at least one of the accessible parking spaces is required to accommodate a van.




Placement of Parking Spaces

Accessible parking spaces must be placed adjoining the shortest accessible route from the parking space to an accessible entrance, unless the parking spaces fall under one of the stated exceptions. Also, if there is more than one accessible entrance, accessible parking spaces must be located proximate to the shortest accessible path for each entrance. When a parking lot or structure isn’t for a specific building, the accessible spaces must be adjoining the shortest accessible route to an accessible entrance.




Width of Accessible Parking Spaces

An accessible car parking space must be a minimum of 96 inches wide and a van space must be a minimum of 132 inches wide (a van space may be 96 inches if the access aisle is 96 inches or wider). Markings should be used to represent the width and measurement is from the markings’ centerline.


Access Aisles



Accessible parking spaces must have an access aisle, an area accommodating wheelchair use to or from a car, next to an accessible route. This is vital to have the correct color of paint and it’s different for either concrete or asphalt. Access aisles (for car and van spaces) must be: (1) a minimum of 60 inches wide; (2) the full length of the parking space; and (3) clearly marked (the type of marking may be specified in state or local law). Access aisles may be located on either side of a parking space, so long as the aisle doesn’t extend into the traffic lane, and must connect to accessible routes. However, curb ramps should not extend into an access aisle. One access aisle may be shared by two spaces if the access aisle is located between them. Van spaces that are angled must provide the access aisle on the passenger side.


Ground Surfaces and Vertical Clearance

Both parking spaces and access aisles must comply with the ADA requirements that ground surfaces be “stable, firm, and slip resistant.” Additionally, access aisles must be level with their parking spaces. The minimum vertical clearance for van parking spaces and the related access aisles is 98 inches.




Accessible parking spaces must have signs identifying each disabled parking stall. Such signs must use the International Symbol of Accessibility and signs for van spaces must additionally state “van accessible.”








For information on other important and commonly overlooked ADA requirements, please contact me and my team for a CASp report and other ADA design issues. Don’t make the mistake so many properties owners do and think your property is compliant.

Tony (Anthony) Guichard

As the CEO & Founder of ACR Concrete & Asphalt Construction, Inc., Anthony personally holds A, B, C-12, C-8 & C-32 licenses with over 35 years experience in the design and construction industry.