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“Poolmageddonâ? postponed 60 days by our merciful Justice Department

CNN brings us the joyous news that our wise and compassionate masters have realized their latest hyper-regulations might be just a wee bit difficult to comply with – by which I mean, “physically impossible” – and have generously allowed us an extra 60 whole days to get with the program:

Your hotel, health club and neighborhood pool can remain open this weekend without fear of violating the law.

The Justice Department said Thursday it is delaying for 60 days a new law that requires all public pools to install “lifts” or provide other means to make pools accessible to disabled individuals.

Wow, did you hear that, hotel and health club owners?  You can remain open this weekend without fear of violating the law!  God bless America!  This is the kind of intense love and compassion you can normally only experience by standing in front of a cannon that shoots Care Bears.

The regulations in question require the installation of handicapped pool lifts in every single public pool in the United States.  Compliance would be literally impossible – there aren’t enough pool lifts, or installation technicians, to get the job done.  Although this latest weird permutation of the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed in 2010, no one was entirely certain what it meant:

But in recent months, there has been widespread confusion about what sort of pools are required to make the change, whether pools must install permanent lifts or can use cheaper portable lifts and whether one lift could service more than one pool.

As the Thursday deadline neared, hotels and other pool operators nationwide unleashed a torrent of calls and letters to industry associations and politicians, saying the rule threatened to close pools from coast to coast. Several Republican lawmakers charged the rule was an example of unwieldy government regulation. And scribes even gave the debacle a name: “Poolmageddon.”

A hotel industry association said the government originally indicated portable lifts were acceptable, but reversed itself in a legal interpretation released early this year. It also said the government is requiring a separate lift for every pool, greatly increasing the costs to facilities with numerous pools.

So, if you own a hotel or club with multiple pools, the government decided it’s not good enough to have a portable lift that can be moved between them, servicing the needs of the vanishingly small number of handicapped swimmers who require them.  Every pool must be given its own lift, in a process costing anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000.  That’s roughly double the cost of a portable lift, and the permanent machinery is profoundly dangerous to children:

Permanent lifts are costly because they must have electrical grounding work, which requires installers to “tear up” a pool deck, said Marlene Colucci, executive vice president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

“You have to do electrical grounding requirements anytime you’re within five feet of water, and that’s required by the government. And this was not at all contemplated by the Department of Justice when they issued this further guidance,” Colucci said.

Permanent lifts also are an “easy attractive nuisance” for children, she said.

“Children see it, they look at it and say, ‘This is a diving board. This is something to play with. And we’re very concerned about injuries that result from that.”

As well they should be, since the Justice Department has already decided to allow vigilante enforcement of its standards through drive-by lawsuit.  The DOJ isn’t planning to flood the nation with pool inspectors.  They’re going to let trial lawyers file big-money suits wherever they see fit, terrorizing all other pool owners into compliance… or, perhaps more likely, closing down their pools altogether.  The trial lawyers will funnel some of their windfall back to the Democrat Party, which they heavily support.

Part of the confusion stems from language that says disabled swimmers must be accommodated wherever it is “readily achievable” to do so, a concept that has been integral to the Americans With Disabilities Act since its passage in 1992.  Guess who decides when the installation of pool lifts is “readily achievable,” and when it is not.

This entire “law,” like many excess of the ADA, is an exercise in anti-law.  It’s not a clearly defined set of standards that reasonable law-abiding citizens can comply with.  It’s a wholly arbitrary exercise of pure, liberty-dissolving government power: rules enforced at the whim of bureaucrats, according to standards that are literally impossible to meet, over the panicked cries of hapless citizens whose behavior will now be controlled by fear of random litigation.  

The Justice Department says it might decide to wait even longer before it drops the hammer on pool owners.  Maybe it will allow a six-month extension.  Or maybe not.  It’s all up to the whims of the regulators.  The monarchy America seceded from would never have treated its subjects with such callous, careless disregard.

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Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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