WRAL Investigates

Raleigh wrestles with handicapped parking problem

Posted May 29, 2008

— A city task force met Thursday to discuss ways to balance the need to provide accessible downtown parking spaces for the disabled with the need to keep spaces available for other drivers.

The meeting came two days after a WRAL investigation found people with handicapped placards parking on downtown streets for hours at a time.

Under Raleigh's interpretation of state law, a vehicle bearing a handicapped placard or sticker can take any metered or time-limited parking space – at no charge – for as long as the driver needs it.

That stance has frustrated downtown merchants, who say customers have no place to park because cars bearing handicapped placards often occupy all on-street spaces all day.

"It's the long-term parkers who are the employees that take over the streets early in the morning and don't move," said Gordon Dash, the city's parking administrator.

A task force appointed by Mayor Charles Meeker, which has been meeting since September to devise a comprehensive downtown parking plan, took up the handicapped parking issue Thursday.

"We need to figure out how to address it," committee member Don Carter said. "There's too many people that are using handicapped stickers that don't need handicapped stickers."

A lack of enforcement for people misusing the placards is one of two problems committee members noted. The other was providing the spaces free of charge, which they said is a disincentive for getting people to use handicapped spaces in downtown parking decks, which charge for access.

"If that's removed, than the abuse level can come down," parking consultant Lee Bourque said, referring to the option of free on-street parking.

Charlotte charges people with handicapped placards who park in metered spaces.

"They do have turnover, and it does work well for them there. We're certainly looking at that model," Dash said.

Committee member Mark Ezzell said disabled drivers don't deserve free parking more than anyone else. But expecting them to go out to feed a meter all day also isn't reasonable, he said.

"We need to make certain that we do not solve this problem on the backs of people with disabilities," Ezzell said.

The panel also is looking at  Boulder, Colo., for a possible model. That city provides designated, on-street handicapped spaces with all-day meters.

The task force expects to submit its recommendations for improved downtown parking to the City Council in July or August.


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  • airbornegirl16 May 30, 2008

    While I agree that those with disabilities should have the opportunity to park close to where they need to go, I do not understand why they cannot pay for it. I think it's the fair option for everyone.

  • RonnieR May 30, 2008

    What no one has mentioned is that RPD threw in the towel on parking enforcement many, many moons ago. I can remember when I first started my career, every month we'd get an envelope with
    10-15 warrants from RPD for our citizens that had not paid their
    parking tickets. We go out and arrest them and take them to the local magistarte, where most paid the fine and court costs and a few posted bond and went to Wake County District Court for trial. Some time later they stopped and on one of my trips to take evidence to the SBI lab, I asked a RPD officer about it and he said that the CHief had stopped them from writing parking tickets because it wasn't cost effective. So you get the enforcement that you pay for.

  • Made In USA May 30, 2008

    I know what would stop this abuse of people using handicap parking spaces..if it's legal. If several of us were to stake out these spaces with our video cameras in hand and film the abusers "skipping" away from their cars to whereever they are going, and then give these tapes to WRAL for broadcasting on the news...now don't you think people would get the word that they might get caught parking in a spot designated for those WITH disabilities?

  • Greyhound_Girl May 30, 2008

    Justin T...Please let me have the Company and parking lot information and I will pass it along to them. These employees work off Jones/Lane Street and Dawson (the NW side of downtown) and there is not much parking available right now with the expansion of the museum of Nat. Science. The waiting lists that they are on, are for the government spaces that have been assigned to their Agency and currently the Agency has assigned all their spaces. McLaurin is the only private parking administrator, that I knew of, on their side of town, so I had nothing else to offer them.

  • Justin T. May 30, 2008

    "...the "powers that be" have decided to take parking away from employees and do not replace it! I know a large number of State employees who have been on waiting lists for parking spaces for over a year and they are parking on the streets of Raleigh."

    BALONEY! - I work downtown and can name 3 or 4 lots that have open spaces that go for $35 per month. Most people just want the lot directly beside their office.

    I have to walk 2 blocks to my office. Big deal.

    The long waiting lists are only for the most convenient lots and for covered parking in the decks.

    Also, if you work for the government... you are a public servant. You are not entitled to free parking that will ultimately be funded by the tax payers. I have served in the public sector and hope that those that are working for the government who want a hand out read this and quit their jobs. Quit sponging off of society.

  • TheDocJones May 30, 2008

    It is time for concerned citizens to take action. Take a video camera / cell phone and record the people you see. Post it to YouTube with a nice shot of their license plate & face. Public humiliation works wonders. And video recording in public is legal & can be lots of fun.

  • enigma1469 May 30, 2008

    The abuse of place cards happens everyday. Everyone sees it all of the time.

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc May 30, 2008

    Handicapped people have money too, not sure why they get free parking...

    Obviously we want them to have the ability to get around and even get the best parking spots, but they should have to pay just like everyone else!

  • cocker_mom May 30, 2008

    I don't think that anyone with a legit need for a placard would mind if a parking person asked for verification. (They'd probably appreciate it).

    3 weeks of meter maids monitoring parking in HC spaces and verifying eligibility, and if they are not eligible - slap them with BIG fines - no warnings, nothing - and I bet the abuses would stop. An able bodied person breaking the law would think twice about that free space if the risk of getting caught meant an instant $250. Oh - and why not publish their faces / cars like they do for the prostitution busts just for fun.

    I don't necessarily think that there's a need to change the law - only to stop the abuses - which is so often the case.

  • dwntwnboy May 30, 2008

    It's simple....if you can afford the gas at what it costs nowadays, they you can afford to pay for parking like everyone else. Thought the whole point was to treat EVERYONE equal.