Pair sues for more disabled access

City contends that places like Balboa Island's Marine Avenue actually exceed ADA requirements.

November 11, 2010|By Mike Reicher,
  • A disabled man, Arnie Pike, is suing the city of Newport Beach for what he says are curbs like this handicapped parking on Marine and Park on Balboa, which are not accessible enough for wheelchair-bound individuals.
A disabled man, Arnie Pike, is suing the city of Newport… (DON LEACH, Daily…)

EDITOR'S NOTE: This corrects an earlier version of the story. Arnie Pike did not sue the Orange County Transportation Authority. He criticized its accessibility, but did not sue the agency.


BALBOA ISLAND — The Balboa Island Ferry and the shops along Marine Avenue are some of the most charming places in Southern California.

That's unless you are disabled, Arnie Pike contends.

Pike, a wheelchair-bound man, and another disabled woman are suing the city to make Balboa Island more accessible. They claim there aren't enough disabled parking spaces along the main shopping street, that the sidewalks are too crowded with benches and signs, and that the Balboa Island Ferry is inaccessible.

After two years of negotiations and court proceedings, the parties are going to trial.

"I want it to be improved for everybody who is disabled," Pike said, "so we can all use the facilities like normal people."

Pike, 72, began using a wheelchair after he suffered a stroke in the 1990s. His co-plaintiff, Christie Rudder, 48, was in a car accident that left her a partial quadriplegic. She also uses a wheelchair.


Rudder has visited family on Little Balboa Island for years, her attorney says, and around 2005 she was unable to park in her normal spaces because the city removed three disabled spots along Marine Avenue.

There is still one disabled space just off Marine, next to the Balboa Island Fire Station. But Pike said that he is unable to extend his wheelchair ramp from his van because the curb there is too high. Because of this and other barriers, the pair claim, the city is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws.

The city contends that the areas in question, including the Marine Avenue area, are accessible. The sidewalks "exceed the requirements of the ADA regulations," the city claims in court records.

It voluntarily installed the disabled space on Park Avenue, the city states, as the ADA rules do not require public agencies to provide this type of disabled parking.

"The city goes out and tries to help the handicapped and a guy like this challenges it," said Councilman Ed Selich, who represents the area. "It seems this guy is punishing the city for going the extra mile."

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