Disabled Equestrians Organization
231 Glenwood Ave Woodside, Calif. 94062
650-851-8343 Voice 650-851-3914 FAX
July 24, 2004
Mr. Thomas F. Casey
San Mateo County Counsel
Hall of Justice and Records
400 County Center
Redwood City, Ca 96063
Dear Mr. Casey,
Thank you for your letter of July 12 regarding my concerns that disabled equestrians would be denied access to the new Sawyer Camp Trail. I had written a similar letter to Mr. Bern Smith, Chairman of the Parks and Recreation Commission in this regard on Dec 2, 2002, and got no response. It is good to see that someone at the County is concerned about complying with the law.
As you correctly point out, “the ADA requires that if any particular use is allowed, it must be equally accessible by disabled persons as it is by those without disabilities. The trail extension will be paved and accessible to persons with disabilities, by wheel chair or other appropriate means”. There are many who chose a horse as an appropriate means to access and travel a distance that they could not walk. The description of how beautiful the trail will be and the wonderful views of the lake establish that traveling on this trail will be a “life sustaining experience”. Denying this enjoyment is a violation of the ADA.
You point out that the design has been approved, and it is too difficult to change. The Parks and Rec commission knew this was a concern a year and a half ago, and if they failed to bring it up, it is not we who should suffer. Blaming it on the bureaucracy is no excuse.
On the bright side you point out, “it will be equally available and accessible to any person on a horse, disabled or not”, which is encouraging news.
I believe this issue can be easily addressed by involving equestrians in the trail design details. Asphalt is hard on horse’s feet, and can be slippery, which is why we want a dirt path. If there is a dirt path for most of the way, and a few areas that travel on asphalt is required, that may be a reasonable compromise. We too understand the budgetary limitations and are not asking for much in the way of expense. A dirt shoulder along the trail does not cost much of anything, and needs no maintenance. If it is included in the construction plans a dirt shoulder is essentially no cost at all.
I do not want to see county funds and our dollars spent on legal action. Let us work together to insure that disabled equestrians are not discriminated against, and all trail users can be satisfied.
Thank you for your support. Please forward a copy of this to the County Supervisors, so they are aware of the status of this issue.
Donald E. Pugh
President, Disabled Equestrians Organization