The City of Long Beach may soon ease up parking restrictions in certain city-owned parking lots when it comes to how they enforce fees for disabled drivers. The Long Beach City Council voted last night to instruct the city attorney to draw up a draft ordinance that would bring those parking lots into compliance with state laws that allow for disabled persons to park fee-free.
The request was headed by Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price and supported by her colleagues in the second, fourth and sixth districts.
"Parking is always difficult in Long Beach, and this can be even more difficult when you are handicapped,” Price said. “I hope this agenda item will serve to help address some of the seemingly inconsistent laws for metered parking for handicapped parking in city-owned lots.”
The California Department of Motor Vehicles outlines the benefits available to those drivers with visible handicapped placards or license plates including the ability to park in street spaces with metered parking at no charge. The placards also allow those drivers to park at green curbs for an unlimited amount of time and in spaces designated for merchants or residents.
Price said that by extending this option to city-owned lots it would most likely affect about six to seven lots citywide.
“It wasn’t a large issue, but then again our handicapped population is not a large population in comparison to the able-bodied residents,” Price said. “It was large enough and serious enough of an issue to warrant some accommodation.”
The program would be extended to lots that don’t include an automated arm that stops cars from entering without exiting. However, Price said there could be a future option where automated lots would be included if some kind of technology can be worked out to allow handicapped drivers to exit without paying the hourly rates.
If implemented, the program is not expected to have a large financial impact on the city as tickets given to drivers with handicap placards or license plates who park without paying are not a large source of income for the city.