San Francisco Cracking Down on Abuse of Disabled Parking Placards at City Meters

San Francisco transportation officers are starting to crack down on abuse of disabled parking placards at metered parking spaces across the city.

The placards are as good as gold to San Francisco drivers because they allow parking at meters for free. The city is trying to stop people who are not disabled from using them.

Parking control Officer Chris Nichel cited one driver, Jose Barbosa, for using an expired placard. Even though Nichel confirmed Barbosa has a new, valid placard on file with the DMV, it wasn't the one on the vehicle, and Barbosa was hit with a hefty $800 fine.

"The problem is the DMV; same problem every time," Barbosa said.

Parking control officers said the bottom line is drivers can only use a valid disabled parking placard, and the driver must be present; the placard is issued to a person, not a vehicle.

Last year alone, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency issued 2,500 citations for disabled placard misuse.

"It's a problem nationwide, not just here in California," said Shawn McCormick, director of parking enforcement and traffic at SFMTA.

The most common excuse, McCormick added, is ignorance. A for instance: "I thought I could use it because I was going to pick up stuff from the store for Mom."

The penalty for parking in a disabled space without a placard is $875. A driver caught using someone else's placard faces an additional fine of $875 plus the cost of the parking meter, if there is one.

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