City of L.A. ordered to overhaul emergency preparedness plan

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Following a landmark decision in February declaring Los Angeles’ emergency preparedness plan as in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ordered the city on Wednesday to hire independent experts to make the plan accommodating for people with disabilities.

Evacuation Route Sign

L.A. Not Prepared

The plan must be completely reviewed and revised within three years, according to a news release from Disability Rights Advocates, which filed the lawsuit along with the Disability Rights Legal Center. However, the judge ordered that “the City begin this review and revision without delay, and that it proceed as expeditiously as possible in this process.”

The experts are required to file biannual reports tracking the city’s progress, with a culminating report at the end of the three-year period.

The class-action lawsuit, filed in 2009, argued that most of the city’s shelters failed to meet ADA structural regulations and that the city lacked plans specifically addressing the needs of people with disabilities, thereby putting them at an unnecessary risk during the city’s often frequent natural disasters.

“(People with disabilities) will continue to be at-risk for suffering and death in disproportionate numbers unless the City family drastically enhances the existing disability-related emergency management and disaster planning process and readiness as required by the ADA and other statutes,” the court stated in its February decision.

The decision, which affects an estimated 800,000 people with disabilities, was the first of it’s kind nationwide.