Everyone Out of the Pool

I don’t know about you, but when I travel I always stay in hotels with pools. I find a morning swim refreshing before a day of business meetings or family obligations. Thanks to the Obama administration, the days of the hotel pool may be numbered. As of today, as USA Today reports: “Hoteliers must have pool lifts to provide disabled people equal access to pools and whirlpools, or at least have a plan in place to acquire a lift. If they don’t, they face possible civil penalties of as much as $55,000. ” H/t: Walter Olson @ Cato

Olson goes on to explain, citing Conn Carroll at the Washington Examiner, that many pool operators initially assumed they could just purchase a portable lift that could be wheeled over to poolside on user request and stored when not in use.

“No such luck: the Obama administration has announced that the lifts must not only be of permanent construction, but must apply to each separate “water feature”, so that a pool with adjoining spa would need two of them. “Each lift costs between $3,000 and $10,000 and installation can add $5,000 to $10,000 to the total.”

Apparently, more than a few hotels are simply opting to “shutter their pools until further notice” rather than incur the legal shakedown by the ADA plaintiffs bar. Under Obama, the regulators have truly gone off the deep end.


  1. Trace

    I also read that adding a lift near a pool raises additional liability issues as it invariably becomes an inappropriate plaything for kids.

  2. Southern Pessimist
    Starve the Beast: You know a funny thing? In an age where the hard left has taken control of my beloved country and is running it into the ground, these little offenses shouldn’t bug me. But they really do. · 2 minutes ago

    Actually it is the littleness of these sorts of offenses that make them so offensive.  Phillip Howard made a terrific book, by compiling them in The Death of Common Sense.

  3. KC Mulville

    Regulation is simply prior restraint.

    When a newspaper has a story that could expose national secrets and harm national security, the Supreme Court has ruled that you can’t impose “prior restraint” (or at least, you have a high threshold of proof  to prevent them from publishing it.

    But when it comes to possibly stubbing your toe in public, regulation does to businesses what prior restraint is forbidden to do to newspapers.

  4. John Murdoch

    I’m the father of a child with a severe disability. I’m a trained advocate for children with disabilities–I’ve been the chairman of a regional planning agency that coordinates funding and programming for young children with disabilities. I have been a volunteer, for something like twenty years, in a therapeutic program providing physical therapy to children and adults with disabilities. And the first time I volunteered to work with the disabled, forty years ago, was teaching people with disabilities how to swim. 

    Okay? I’m kinda sympathetic to the issue. 

    But this is just insane. This is beyond insane. 

    This is an example of a bureaucrat dreaming up a rule–probably prompted by a manufacturer of a swimming pool lift–without having the slightest idea of what this means. 

    First–who’s going in the pool? The vast majority of people with disabilities are ambulatory. The lift would only be used by somebody in a wheelchair. There are two kinds of chair people: manual chair people, and electric chair people. 

    The manual chair people could–depending upon their features–get themselves into and out of a lift. The electric chair folks?


  5. John Murdoch

    (Continued from #9)

    Getting somebody sufficiently involved that they’re in an electric chair out of that chair, into a lift, into the water; and then back into the lift, out of the water, and back into that chair is a production and a quarter. 

    Don’t believe me? I have a staggeringly-expensive personal lift stowed in the back of the carriage barn at our therapeutic program. It was given to us by somebody who got a colossal grant to pay for it–we have never managed to use it with a client. It’s too awkward, and frankly–too dangerous to the client. It’s precisely the kind of “portable” device the Justice Department is talking about. 

    The only application here is a person so disabled that they’re in an electric chair. That means zero muscle tone, and zero balance. Get them up in the air on a lift–how do they stay on? 

    You pretty much have to put a volunteer on the lift with them, to keep them in place. And not drop them. 


  6. Aaron Miller

    “Help me, lawyers. You’re my only hope.”

    Nope. That just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

    Unless some miraculous government turnaround occurs after the coming election, business owners need to start telling these bureaucrats to go to hell. The Founders never intended that politicians and lawyers be the sole arbiters of our freedom.

  7. John Murdoch

    (Continued from #10)

    To be fair, I don’t think this is an example of an insidious plot by the Obama Administration, or proof of the perfidy of the Dear Leader. I think this is a well-meaning bureaucracy getting conned by a manufacturer or three who paid a lobbyist to get this stupid rule enacted. 

    One of the frustrations of organizations that serve the disabled is contributions from well-meaning, but clueless, donors. (We have a gorgeous set of 12 show jumps that an Eagle Scout made for us. We would never even think of letting one of our clients jump. But the kid had his heart set on building us a set of jumps….)

    Another of the frustrations is the industry of companies that make products tailored to wealthy well-meaning donor wannabes who want give something memorable–something that can have a donor nameplate attached. Like the swimming pool lift company (or companies) that is behind this. 

    In the not-too-distant future the nationalized healthcare system is going to want to kill my daughter. And it is insane stuff like this that will give them cover. 

    I cannot describe how mad this makes me.

  8. tabula rasa

    Faux equality = insanity.

  9. ctlaw

    Does there have to be a lift for the diving board (yes, I know  liabilty has pretty much already elimnated these)?

    Next target: wheelchair accessible tanning beds.

  10. John Murdoch
    Trace Urdan: I also read that adding a lift near a pool raises additional liability issues as it invariably becomes an inappropriate plaything for kids.


    Forget about able-bodied children–these things are incredibly dangerous for the people they’re alleged to help. This is beyond stupid!

  11. liberal jim

    Wasn’t ADA a H.W. Bush brain child?  The concept of being only a little bit pregnant is not a difficult one.  When, if ever, will the GOP grasp it.

  12. Daniel Perez

    Next target: wheelchair accessible tanning beds. · 7 minutes ago

    .. and how about obligatory indoor swimming pools for agoraphobic swimmers?

  13. John Murdoch

    Liberal Jim–

    The ADA was enacted under George H.W. Bush. 

    The guiding principle of the ADA is supposed to be “reasonable accomodation.” The example we always give in training programs is when you’re building a $6 million school building, adding curb cuts–at a cost of $100 to $200 apiece–is a reasonable thing to do within the scope of the total project. 

    The ink wasn’t dry on the legislation, however, before every municipal official with an Ediface Complex started claiming that “the ADA requires [insert pet project name here].” 

    And vendors have become adept at playing the game. An entire industry of retrofit elevators has been created. As I ranted above, there’s an entire industry of customized person lifts just for these kind of “pretend ADA” requirements. And evidently there’s a plaintiff’s bar that makes a fortune suing over the issue.

    When the ADA was passed, I worried that there would come a day when a backlash arose–and when that happened, people with significant disabilities would be left to starve and die. 

    This is beyond stupid.

  14. Cutlass

    Outrageous. Absolutely outrageous.  

    Well, I guess pools and hot tubs will now be a luxury exclusive to the rich, who can either afford their own or afford to stay at the expensive hotels who can afford these modifications and the insurance hikes that go along with them.  I sorry, but any further comment on this topic would violate the Ricochet COC.

    I will note the the linked article’s comments section is particularly instructive.  Note the sense of entitlement from well intentioned advocates and how arguments about freedom of choice or the inevitable economic consequences are incomprehensible to them.  

    Note how they respond:

    - Opponents of these onerous rules are “ignorant,” “intolerant,” and/or equivalent to Jim Crow supporters.

    - Several actually respond by posting links to photos of disabled children in lieu of rational argument.  Good grief.

    Perhaps most instructive are the self described progressive opponents of these rules who who are genuinely baffled and defensive towards any suggestion that this might be a logical extension of their own philosophy. 

  15. Adam Freedman
    John Murdoch: (Continued from #10)

    To be fair, I don’t think this is an example of an insidious plot by the Obama Administration, or proof of the perfidy of the Dear Leader. I think this is a well-meaning bureaucracy getting conned by a manufacturer or three who paid a lobbyist to get this stupid rule enacted. 

    Edited 34 minutes ago

    John, thanks for your posts on this – I’ve learned a good deal.  Walter Olson at Cato agrees that the new regs are not a plot by Obama to close swimming pools, but an unfortunate example of the regulatory mindset:

    The problem is more that this administration (and not just this one) has outsourced its thinking on the law to advocates in the legal academia-disabled rights-”public interest law” community, which tends to embrace interpretations and applications of the law geared to advance ambitious versions of social change.

    As Olson explains, some of those “public interest” law types have made it into the Obama administration.  But then, Bush 41 and 43 were both boosters of the ADA.

  16. Adam Freedman
    Trace Urdan: I also read that adding a lift near a pool raises additional liability issues as it invariably becomes an inappropriate plaything for kids. · 1 hour ago

    Yes.  If kids get hurt around the lifts, the hotels will inevitably be sued for creating an “attractive nuisance” as they say in tort law.  So, the plaintiff’s bar wins whether you install the lift or not.

  17. tabula rasa

    Adam:  Consider this a blessing.  You could drown or have a heart attack while swimming.

    When something is deprived from everyone we have equality.  Very bad equality, but equality.

  18. Paul A. Rahe

    Yet another indication that the growth of the administrative state is incompatible with personal and political liberty. And yet another case in which Barack Obama unmasks the tyrannical propensities inherent in the administrative state.

  19. Fake John Galt

    Now we will have equality. Now none will swim.

  20. Adam Freedman

    Paul, that really is the heart of the matter. As with so many areas of policy, Congress has created a disability bureaucracy that acts as lawmaker, executive, prosecutor and judge. Separation of powers is no longer seen as necessary. Incidentally when I posted this to Facebook, I had an ADA lawyer posting rebuttals within hours.

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