SPUR Forum: Parking in Our Cities

From SPUR:

Image courtesy of Flickr user Geoffery Kehrig

People with disabilities have trouble finding parking in San Francisco on a daily basis, making it difficult to access their destinations. The city’s Accessible Parking Policy Advisory Committee has developed a package of recommendations to increase access and reduce disabled parking placard misuse. Come hear about the committee’s unique process, extensive research and proven policy recommendations.

Carla Johnson / Mayor’s Office on Disability
Lisa Foster / SFMTA Consultant

  • Logan H.

    “People with disabilities have trouble finding parking in San Francisco on a daily basis” …. that is because there is rampant placard abuse in SF! People with no physical challenges whatsoever are able to get placards. I’ve seen so-called “handicapped” people walk around, lift heavy things, etc.

    Want to curb placard abuse? Fine abusers $50 for every day they’ve had a placard. Reward people who report abusive placard policies with a cut of the proceeds.

  • Anonymous

    That would create a flood of people reporting “abusers” who are actually just people with invisible disabilities. It’s not always possible for the casual passerby to determine who is and is not disabled. A doctor needs to do that.

  • Logan H.

    What is the point of having dedicated disabled parking spots? So the “disabled” don’t have to walk far from their car to wherever they are going. But if you see them saunter around just fine, carrying luggage, then are they really disabled?

    IMHO, unless the car has been physically modified for the disability, the operator should not be considered disabled.

    Given the dramatic rise in the number of placards in the City, it is clear that doctors are not doing a thorough job of vetting. Did the City suddenly become a magnet for disabled folks from around the country? What caused this surge, then?

  • Anonymous

    If we eliminate the financial incentive for able-bodied scofflaw motorists to obtain and employ the placards in the first place–if we continue to reserve convenient spaces for the disabled but have them pay for parking like everyone else–the disabled won’t have any trouble finding spots anymore.

  • Logan H.

    Exactly. There’s no reason that a disabled person should not have to pay for parking. They pay for movie tickets, groceries, etc. just fine like the rest of us; so why not parking spots?

  • Anonymous

    The argument goes that disability is causal to lower income and inability to pay”.

    The counter argument is “income status is easily verifiable, simply give a discount based on ability to pay, not physical disability”

  • Logan H.

    In most other areas of society, being disabled does not get you a discount (in fact, I’m hard pressed to find any example of a “disabled” discount). Not on Muni; not on BART; not on the airlines; not in a restaurant; not in a store; not in a movie theater; not at the gas station; etc.

    So why should we have a discount on parking, when it is known that the parking situation is being abused?

  • Anonymous

    I am by no means denying there are lots of people who abuse the system and that something should be done about it. But there are also people with conditions that flare up one day and subside the next, or whose diseases cause chronic exhaustion such as lupus. Or a parent may have just dropped off a child with disabilities and be coming back to the car. My point is not that no one should investigate and crack down on abusers, rather than casual observation is not sufficient.

  • Anonymous

    I’m hard pressed to find any example of a “disabled” discount). Not on Muni; not on BART.

    You didn’t press very hard given that MUNI and BART both have S/D/Y tickets.

  • Jack

    Handicap parking (reserved spaces) are part of the ADA regulations to ensure access to goods and services. Access from a parking context entails rules about reserved spaces themselves, signage, and routes to/from. In layman’s terms, there needs to be a barrier free means to exit your vehicle and enter a building. The only distance rule is that the reserved spaces must be located on the shortest accessible route of travel from adjacent parking to an accessible entrance.

    Distance however is not the vital part of handicap parking. Barrier free access from getting out of your vehicle to entering the building is. The slop/grade, the access aisle, the surface material, the curb cut, the door handle, etc. Even if a reserved spot was only 3 feet from the building, it wouldn’t be much good if you had to climb a 20 foot ladder, swing on a rope, drop through a window and land on an air mattress to get in.

    Distance is still an important factor and one of the main contentions when it comes to handing out permits. The contentions stem from variable distances each business requires to access their goods and services. A small coffee shop may take only 20 feet, a drug store may take 125 feet, a grocery store 500 feet, a baseball stadium 1000 feet, a large mall 2500 feet, etc. Add to this, the varying distances a person with a disability may be able to cover from day to day, hour to hour. There is no one distance that works for everyone and everywhere.

    The good news is there are many readily available means to assist with distance when barrier free access is provided: Wheelchairs, scooters, walkers, crutches, canes, etc. These mobility devices allow for turning distance into a convenience factor rather than a need. Simply choose the device you need to cover the distance involved.

    Eligibility for a handicap parking permit could then be determined by access aisle. If an access aisle is required to enter/exit your vehicle or transfer to your mobility device, you would qualify for a handicap permit.


MTC Policy Advisory Council Equity and Access Subcommittee

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