Residents with handicap license plates may soon be able to reserve parking spots outside their homes. City council members are considering a measure to add license plate numbers on residential handicap poles to prevent unauthorized vehicles from parking in spaces requested by disabled motorists living at the location.
“Many times the reason that space is in front of someone’s home is because the person living there requested and got the proper paperwork to make that happen,” said Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large. “It’s disconcerting when that person returns home and finds that space occupied.”
Morris, who is pushing for the measure, said residents have complained about interlopers occupying handicap spaces outside their homes.
“Instead of using their parking spot they are using someone else’s,” said Mohammed Akhtaruzzaman, 2nd Ward councilman.
“What we’re looking to do is add a license plate number on the sign. It will be a separate sign that will have plate number of that vehicle,” said Robert Statuto, public works supervisor. He said the sign will read, “Use prohibited by other handicapped persons.”
Statuto said currently residential handicap parking poles have two signs, a blue wheelchair icon, under which lies the penalty sign. He said a third sign will be added with the license plate number.
Akhtaruzzaman said the sign ought to be very conspicuous so that other handicapped motorists do not miss it. Statuto said a sample will be provided to the council. The supervisor also added that the high intensity signs will be difficult to miss.
Cost to obtain the reserved option is $75 for new applicants; $50 for current handicap pole holders, said Statuto. Making the sign will cost the city seven or eight dollars, said the supervisor. Current residential parking pole holders will be able to request the reserved parking spot option during their annual application renewal.
Residents with handicap placards will not qualify for the option; only handicap license plate holders will be able to request the reserved handicap spot.
“Placards can be moved from car to car,” said the supervisor.
What if you have multiple vehicles? asked James Staton, 1st Ward councilman.
“If you have multiple vehicles don’t apply for this,” said added Julio Tavarez, 5th Ward councilman.
Residents uninterested in the new option can forgo it altogether. “You do not have to have this,” said Statuto. “It’s an option.”
Statuto estimates there’s roughly 1,400 residential handicap parking poles throughout the city. Seven-percent of all homes in the city have blue lined, wheelchair symbol bearing, parking spots in their streets, said the supervisor.
“We already have parking issues and concerns,” said Staton. He said the city suffers from a scarcity of parking — with this new option, the city is further subtracting parking spaces from residents.
The supervisor said he does not expect every single handicap pole holder to obtain this option. He said a spike is unlikely.
“If all of them apply that is going to do a number on our parking situation,” said Staton.
Anyone parking in a reserved handicap space will face a $50 penalty, according to the ordinance which will be up for initial vote during the council’s next regular meeting.
Morris suggested a two-month grace period, during which violators will be issued warnings instead of fines.