Mixed Motives Help Sink a Resident’s Accommodation Request
If you and your clients have become hesitant to deny any request for an accommodation, a federal district court has just sent a message that denials made after a thoughtful and careful process may get more support than you’d have expected.
Brenda and David Norman had lived in their home in Rancho del Lago at least six years before they requested permission to install a second driveway. The second driveway would go on the north side of the home, which at that time was a gravel-covered incline.
According to Brenda, she had fallen and had episodes of instability while attempting to walk on the gravel area. She reported that she could walk on surfaces that aren’t too loose and didn’t require an assistive device to walk. Brenda’s doctors backed up her claim of disability, saying she was limited in the major activity of walking.
Brenda testified that the lack of a second driveway precluded her from having a safe place for recreation and exercise because she had rosacea and the existing driveway on the south side of the house was exposed to the sun all day.
In September 2017, the Normans submitted an architectural variance request to install an 11-foot-wide concrete driveway in their side yard. They included a statement from one of her doctors, confirming that he was treating her and advised her to walk more — which required good footing on solid ground.
The Normans acknowledged, though, that her disability wasn’t the only reason they wanted a second driveway. The Normans also believed it would increase the resale value of their house and wanted additional parking space.
Read the full story now and learn why the court found the driveway wasn’t a necessary accommodation: