In the video above, the author of the bill (2001 AB 587, Firebaugh) which increased damages under the Unruh Civil Rights Act to $4,000 told his fellow legislators that it was a measure "about hate crimes and discrimination crimes"; not surprisingly, there was little opposition to the measure. Today, that same measure [Cal Civil Code § 52(a)] is commonly used with claims of round doorhandles, unsecured floormats and unwrapped sink drains.
California has seen over 15,000 ADA/accessibility lawsuits, most of which sought financial damages under CC 52(a); many business have closed, jobs terminated and bankruptcies filed as a result of these claims. Other states and countries have make commendable accessibility progress without guaranteed financial damages provisions like those used in California. Particularly in this struggling economy, California's legislators need to consider the many less costly and more cost-effective means of achieving this very worthwhile goal.