To they want free parking or access


To they want free parking or access

A few years back I spoke to the head of the disabled veterans of Florida. The state had a law where the disabled parked for free.  The problem is that this concept brought a lot of graft to the system. The free parking meant that a whole lot of people were motivated to beg, borrow, or steal disabled permits.

This meant that there were so many disabled placards in circulation that the truly handicapped had no were to park. All the disabled spaces were taken by cheaters.

This fellow told me that the disabled were looking for access, not a handout. They needed spaces there were a bit wider so their vans would fit and they could get in and out with their wheelchairs and crutches. They needed parking a bit closer so they could get where they were going. They didn’t need, he said, free parking.  They needed to be able to access their jobs so they could pay their way.

He said that they didn’t get discounts on food, or rent, or their electricity or water bills, so why should they get discounts on their parking. He was advocating that Florida change their law.

They did, and Alabama, parking space freed up for the truly disabled. The law still gives free parking, but it limits the amount. It also gives the local municipalities the ability to restrict free disabled parking in their parking structures and at airports, sporting events and other venues.

All this relates to San Francisco and the fact that it has twice as many free disabled parking permits as it has metered parking spaces. Whenever anything is free, it beckons abuse. And usually the people most hurt are those that the law was meant to help.

In this case, I don’t know if the disabled in SF have experienced the problem of not having enough space, but my guess is that they have, and that they write it off to the fact that the city has too few spaces and forget about it.

You’ve seen it. The driver of the Lincoln navigator with the surfboard on top pulls in to the disabled space, jumps out in his running gear, and pulls his racing bike out of the back and takes in it to the nearby shop for repair.  This abuse is not only illegal, but its immoral.

He probably got the placard when is wife sprained her ankle a few weeks ago skydiving and just kept it when she didn’t need it any longer. Oh sure, it has a date on it, but who looks close enough to see that.

Doctors are notorious for writing "notes." Doctor’s notes can get you out of anything.  Perhaps its too easy to get disabled permits.

I have a plan. Its probably already in effect and I just don’t know about it.  First, provide two types of disabled permits –temporary and permanent. Make the temporary ones a different color so enforcement will be tagged to look closely at then and ensure they are not being used past their due date.

Second, take the "OK" for these permits out of the hands of the medical profession and have them issued by legitimate disabled organizations (like the Disabled Am Vets). Let them have the money generated from the fees charged.

Third, all monies that are received from citations written for people abusing the disabled parking rules should go to these issuing groups.

Fourth, the local authority that collects money for parking would pay an amount equal to the percentage of disabled spaces required for off street parking to these groups. IE if there are 5% of spaces in a garage are reserved for disabled, then 5% of all on street revenue and off street taxes should be given to the issuing groups.

This way, the disabled organizations will control the issuance of permits and will see to it that only the truly disabled are issued the placards. It will be in their best interest to issue them only to those in need so there is no glut in the marketplace and spaces for those who need them will be available. Plus, they wouldn’t be so quick to demand free parking, since the more money collected, the more they receive.


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John Van Horn

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