It is the intent of the legislature that, notwithstanding any law to the contrary, plans and specifications for the erection of buildings through the use of public or private funds shall make special provisions for elderly or physically disabled persons. Wash. Rev. Code § 70.92.100.
Thus in 1975, Washington joined the ranks of its sister states in providing specific legislation for barrier-free, accessible buildings for its population. Although Washington has had some sort of barrier-free code for 18 years, its present law authorizes more comprehensive standards than any prior statute, and mandates that the Washington State Building Code Advisory Council “shall adopt minimum standards by rule and regulation for the provision of facilities in buildings and structures to accommodate the elderly, as well as physically disabled persons.. .” Unfortunately, on the eve of its tenth anniversary, Washington’s Barrier-Free Code is misunderstood, misinterpreted, and widely ignored by developers,
architects, and building officials alike. This article will attempt to clarify ambiguities of the Code, and suggest considerations for attorneys wishing to seek judicial enforcement of its provisions.