The Problem Goes away if you Charge for Parking

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The Problem Goes away if you Charge for Parking

Handicapped, that is. Here’s the story – Santa Monica Place is a refurbished top of the line mall on LA’s West Side. It has installed parking equipment and the problem with letting those with disabled parking placards park for free came to the fore. Read about it here.

The problem is that the machine thinks everyone who drives through the lane is the same. So when someone is a disabled parker, how do you “tell” a pay on foot machine that you should get a lower rate. Life is complicated. What the disabled are “supposed” to do is press a button at the exit that activates a camera and then receive a free pass if the disabled placard is visible. I assume that there is someone at a central office somewhere that checks the video and then activates the gate.

However there are no signs to tell people what to do and that has caused the problem. My guess is that there is a larger problem and that is that many people have handicapped placards, many more than deserve them. Yep = can you imagine you can park for free if you have a disabled placard. That means the little thingie that hangs on your mirror is worth a lot. In this case up to what, $7 a day. On street it seems that it can overrule on street permit requirements as well.

Don Shoup’s group at UCLA are surveying areas in downtown Los Angeles and finding that upwards of 30% of the drivers have handicapped permits, and virtually all of them are bogus.

Let’s talk technology. Assuming my scenario is correct and a human intervenes and allows the free exit after checking the video the obvious scenario is that everyone presses the “disabled” button. The guard is so busy they simply hit “ok” and everyone goes out for free. If they don’t, long lines back up as arguments persist, confusion reigns (Maybe that’s what’s happening now.) The City, who it seems is in charge of the parking lots – they own them in partnership with the mall, says they are coming up with a more efficient way to handle handicapped placards than the video method. Good Luck.

I assume the system runs perfectly and signage is in place, and everyone knows how to use the system. If 30% of the parkers have handicapped placards and 2% of the spaces are handicapped spaces, that means that most of disabled who need the extra space can’t find it. How do you stop that?

Simple -=- charge everyone for parking. It takes the benefit out of stealing or forging handicapped permits. The only benefit is to park in a wide space, no money is saved. Most people don’t care about the space, only the money. (By the way, in garages there is no rule that you HAVE to give away handicapped parking, but I think owners don’t at their peril, particularly in Santa Monica.)

Charge – and problem solved. My guess is that most disabled who are shopping at one of the most expensive malls in LA truly aren’t destitute and need free parking, they need ACCESS. They will be happy to pay and in doing so guarantee themselves an appropriate, wide, close in space where they can unload and get on with their lives.

JVH

John Van Horn

John Van Horn

2 Responses

  1. This is why SFPark is a big joke.
    There are many more handicapped placards in SF than there are meters.
    You can make the rate $100 an hour, but if a large chunk can take all of the time for free, there’s no point.
    Rather than waste $20 million in federal funds, they could do more by simply changing the state law to require all to pay.

  2. I agree that all should pay, the beneifit to handicapped parking is to allow for easy access to their destination and the appropriate sized handicap accessible space. When I was in operations one of the Malls we operated wanted to ensure that the handicap spaces were being used properly during the holiday season. This request came to us due to the high volume of consumer complaints by “REAL” handicapped drivers that there weren’t enough handicap spaces for them. To everyones surprise not ours 8 out of every 10 handicapped placards were either borrowed, expired, the drivers weren’t handicapped or he/she was disabled when the placard was issued and is no longer disabled, etc. needless to say there were plenty of spaces available that season.

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