Disabled Drivers May Have to Pay for Parking

Disabled parkers may soon have to pay to park in the City.

Disabled drivers, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has a message for your: your free ride is over.

The SFMTA is considering ending the practice of giving free parking at metered spots to those with disabled parking placards as part of a general overhaul of disabled parking rules, according to the San Francisco Examiner.

At present, some 50,742 drivers possess the blue handicap placards, which allow the bearer to park at a metered space for free for any length of time, the newspaper reported. About 14 percent of San Francisco's meters are occupied with a disabled placard holder at any time, the newspaper reported.

Abuse of the placards is notorious, however, and the agency believes further fraud can be avoided if reform is pursued.

Any change will have to come with state legislation. The regional Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which received a request from the SFMTA to pursue reform, will forward recommendations to state officials.

In the meantime, disabled activists believe that crackdown on fraud, not disabled parkers, is the key. "The concept has been out there before of charging disabled motorists for metered parking," said Dorene Giacopini, a disabled activist who sits on the MTC. "I’m very concerned that San Francisco is going to address this issue on the backs of the people who actually need the accommodation."

The disabled placards are issued free of cost -- and the number of placards has doubled since 1994, the Examiner reported. Misuse of a disabled placard is punishable by a $935 fine.

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