D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh proposed a bill on Oct. 2 that would require disabled citizens to pay for reserved street parking.
Disabled people with government-issued permits would have to pay hourly parking fees and honor time limits for the spaces under the new bill, titled the Accessible Parking Amendment Act of 2012.
Parking spaces reserved for disabled citizens would be designated by a red top, according to Cheh’s press release. However, disabled people will now have to pay to use these spots.
The bill proposes 10 percent of D.C.’s 18,000 parking meters be marked as “red-top” meters.
The D.C. Council will vote on the bill in upcoming weeks.
Disabled citizens don’t pay for designated parking spots in current system
“Red-top” meters are currently open to the public and only require payment from those without disabilities. However, if a person with disabilities parks in a “red-top” meter today, he or she receives free parking and a longer time limit.
Approximately 1,500 “red-top” parking meters existed as of Oct. 2, the press release said.
The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) introduced these painted red meters last spring. However, the D.C. Council halted the “red-top” meter program in March because DDOT did not have the authority to enact these measures, Cheh said.
An investigation of the “red-top” program found many drivers had committed parking fraud, according to Cheh, who represents Ward 3.
“We had extraordinary instances of people parking all day,” she said.
Reform for suggested handicap parking spots
Under the new bill, disabled drivers will also have to pay for parking at “blue-top” meters. These are safe and accessible parking spots that are suggested to disabled drivers, according to the press release. “Blue-top” meters are located in popular areas in the District such as the National Mall.
All members of the public can park in “blue-top” parking spots, which will continue under current and proposed legislation, according to Kiara Pesante, Cheh’s communications director.
Disabled citizens who park in “blue-top” spots currently make no payments for parking and are given time extensions, Pesante said.
A public forum to discuss this proposal will be held on Oct. 15 at 2 p.m. at the Council Chambers of the John A. Wilson Building near Federal Triangle Metro.
Laura Bruns, the events director for AU’s Disability Rights Coalition, said she is disappointed that the District is penalizing the disabled in order to combat parking fraud.
“If everyone else is paying, it doesn’t necessarily strike me as unfair,” Bruns, a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs, said. “But going from something free to paying seems kind of weird to me.”
However, Cheh said the bill is a matter of fairness.
“All may park, and all must pay,” Cheh said.
Eagle Staff Writer Alex Greco contributed to this report.