City officials have been deliberating about instituting an identification or license number on handicap signs to preserve each issued spot for the individual who completed the forms and obtained the pole post.
However, putting in place a regime that designates public parking space for private use may not be legal without a residential parking system, according to Domenick Stampone, the city’s head lawyer.
“Are there any other municipalities in the State of New Jersey who actually do this?” asked Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large.
Stampone explained that other towns use a trick in state law to assign private parking spaces for handicap sign holders by using their residential parking system.
“For example, you are a resident of the city and you get a sticker to park at a certain place,” said Stampone.
Morris wants to change the way handicap signs appear. He wants to place a sign that states the individual’s name and or placard identification number so that the parking spot is reserved for specifically that person rather than allowing other handicap sign holders to take over the spot when it’s empty.
“State law,” said Morris, “says folks who have a handicap license or tag can park in any handicap spot on any street within the State of New Jersey.”
The handicap sign discussion began during the last city council meeting, when Ruby Cotton, 4th Ward councilwoman, mentioned the large number of handicap spots within her ward boundaries, during first-reading of an ordinance that would designate about a dozen handicap parking spot in the city, mostly in her ward.
“All these handicap signs are in my ward, and I got to make sure they’re legitimate,” said Cotton.
“Whether it would withstand a challenge, for providing what amounts to a private parking spot on public property, that’s something we need to prepare for,” said Stampone. “We’re preparing that analysis for their review and we’ll providing it soon.”
Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward councilman and chairman of the Public Works Committee, said the Department of Public Works is waiting on the law department to provide the legal cover to move forward.
“DPW is ready to go as soon as they get the go ahead from legal,” said Tavarez. “Right now, it’s a legal issue, even though we requested we are waiting on legal to provide us the actual ability.”
Morris said he is still working on a residential parking system that he’s been talking about for the past year.
“For some time I’ve been working on a resident only parking ordinance in the city of Paterson,” said Morris. “It’s taking a long time to do it, looking at state statutes and state law.”
Morris mentioned some of the things the ordinance would include: a clause to make sure residents with drive ways use them rather than taking up space on the street; a time of the day when the ordinance comes into play; and exclude certain commercial corridors.
“Other communities do it. I’m sure, if any of you been to the Brownstone, you’ll find in the neighboring town they have big signs that say ‘resident only’ — we have to do something similar,” said Morris, referring to Haledon. “We want to ensure certain time of the day Paterson residents can find parking places when they come home.
Morris said he will be presenting his plan this month.