Jason Fouyer, City Council Grass Valley

Jason Fouyer: City Council

Q: At FREED, we interact with a lot of people who would like to participate in public meetings, but who are unable to get reasonable accommodations for their disabilities. What are some of the barriers that people with disabilities might find in attending a public meeting, and how might reasonable accommodations be provided?

Fouyer: Barriers can be physical and procedural. Both of these barriers can be present when attending a public meeting.

Physical barriers such as stairs, railings, lighting, and entry ways can be found and addressed during ADA studies or other review programs. Review programs should be routinely scheduled. Many government agencies are the enforcement arm for ADA requirements and should be well versed with the guidelines. More importantly, they should hold themselves to the same standard that they hold the general public too. Accommodations for physical barriers should be addressed as soon as recognized.

Procedural process of a public meeting, such as requirements to speak from a podium, for recording purposes, can be considered a barrier. This barrier is significant and can impede upon the publics willingness to participate in the public process. The podium or the walk to the podium, for persons with disabilities, may be challenging. Persons with or without disabilities should be granted permission to speak from their seat.

Q: The numbers of Americans needing long-term care will more than double, from 12 million to 27 million by 2050. Medicare does not cover long-term care. With the aging of the U.S. population how would you recommend your city or county address its current and growing needs for long-term services and supports?

Fouyer: Currently the county, state, and federal governments are responsible for providing these types of social services. Currently Medicaid is the primary funding source for long term care expenses. Local agencies are fairly restricted as the fundamental issue in getting people long-term services and support is an issue of financing. The Congress has struggled with solutions for decades. I believe that large issues such as these belong at the national level. Locally, we have the ability, through land use planning, to identify properties that may be suitable for long-term care facilities. We can provide land through the zoning process and work with potential developers to encourage these facilities as the demand increases. We also can pass resolutions encouraging state and federal leaders to work together and progress towards solutions.

Q: Independent, low income, housing for seniors and people with disabilities is highly impacted. Many low income facilities have 2 year waiting lists. What types of public policy would you favor in order to ensure older adults or people with disabilities who have fixed low incomes can afford to live near vital community services (hospitals, shopping, social services).

Fouyer: Currently the City of Grass Valley does not have a shortage of low income facilities. We have also identified future properties, to be used for low income housing, through our state required Housing Element. All of these properties are relatively close to vital community services.

Q: As a regional example, Yuba City neglected the Americans with Disabilities (ADA) requirements when remodeling Plumas Street, a primary district for shopping and restaurants, thus creating barriers for seniors, people with disabilities, bicyclists, women with strollers etc. A complaint was filed with the Department of Justice and Yuba City had to renovate the street again, in order to be in compliance. Good planning and guidance from the top down would have saved Yuba City millions of dollars. How can a city council prevent this sort of thing from happening?

Fouyer: The city council is a policy board. We are heavily dependent upon city staff to maintain compliance for many regulations, including ADA. The council can ensure compliance on three fronts: 1. Ensure that city staff is competent and accountable. 2. Create policy that addresses and ensures that the city considers citizens with disabilities during decision making processes. 3. Be actively engaged with citizens with disabilities to better understand their needs and concerns.

Q: Individuals who cannot drive face barriers in traveling to work, shopping, social events and city council meetings, because of limited public transit options. How might the city work with nonprofits, businesses, as well as cultural or entertainment organizations to enhance transportation options in a rural community? What kinds of transportation options would you like to see in our rural community?

Fouyer: As a member of the Nevada County Transportation Commission I am engaged in this very issue. From my perspective, the largest issue is the lack of cohesive forms of funding that are heavily restricted and create overlapping competing services. This dilutes funds available to ineffective levels. NCTC is responsible for the distribution of funds received from state and federal agencies. These funds may only be used in very specific ways. For example, some funds received shall be used for Para-transit service only and not for senior transit services. This forces carriers to limit their passengers to a specific clientele. A carrier will be forced to pass by other potential riders that may be in need of transportation.

If funds were more flexible for the rural communities, that can not afford multiple service providers, we could create significant efficiencies with a single transportation provider. This would eliminate the dilution of funds and help us provide greater services with less costly overlapping inefficiencies. This would lessen the need for assistance upon groups that are not in the transportation business.