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New Austin Homes Could Need No-Step Entrance
The Austin City Council could soon require new homes to have an entrance accessible to people with disabilities.
The Mayor's Committee for People with Disabilities is proposing a change to the International Residential Code. Members are asking for a percentage of new homes to have one flat entrance.
In 2008, the committee asked for all new homes to have a no-step entrance. However, that was turned down.
Chair Jesus Lardizabal says the new one will also have exemptions, "If topography is an issue we are proposing there be a variance process where the home would be exempt from compliance with it."
Nancy Crowther is a community advocate. She was born with a disability that weakens her muscles.
"I can't reach real high and I can't step over anything. So I utilize my wheelchair all the time," Crowther said.
Her lack of mobility forced her to retrofit her home. "I have a sidewalk around the house so I can get to the backyard. It costs a lot of money," said Crowther.
She says if some of the new homes already had an accessible entrance it would not only help her, but others aging in their home.
"It means I have the opportunity to go visit somebody," she said.
The Home Builders Association of Greater Austin argues this proposal has unforeseen consequences.
"Austin has some of the strictest tree ordinances in the United States, how do you work around a tree? What if this affects the needed ramp?" Harry Savio said, "There are also regulations on the slope, on the width, whether or not you need a handrail."
In 2013 there are an estimated 3,000 houses that will be built in Austin.
The committee hopes to bring this to council in the next couple months.
By Christie Post