OK, I feel for handicapped persons as much as the next fellow. Frankly I can’t imagine the pain of being unable to simply get out of a car or climb a flight of stairs. However, most handicapped persons I have spoken with don’t what a handout, just a hand. They want access, so they can go about their daily lives. That means a parking space that’s a bit wider and curbs cut so they can get those wheel chairs to the stores and offices they wish to visit. That extra wide stall in the restroom is a necessity, not just a benefit.
However, in most cases, they don’t want Free parking, but they get it anyway, and that causes a major problem in enforcement.
Since handicapped parkers have restricted spaces that are near the entrances and in many cases free, the enticement for people to cheat and copy permits and park in spaces reserved for the disabled is great.
The State of Washington offers free handicapped parking on street, but leaves it up to locals as to whether or not off street parking is free, and in many cases its not. They do require a certain number of handicapped spaces in off street garages but leave it up to the owners as to how they deal with handicapped.
The best way to ensure that handicapped parking is available for those who need it is to treat that space the same as all the others, with the exception that a permit is needed to park there.
That way the jerks that run off handicapped permits on their Xerox machines and take spaces from those who really need it will be motivated to find other ways to cheat, like taking candy from babies and stealing apples from fruit vendors.