(Oct. 30, 2014) – The Portland Bureau of Transportation’s annual count of disabled parking placard use in the central city tallied 313 vehicles displaying disabled parking placards, down from 1,033 vehicles the year before. This year’s count is the first since the City’s new Disabled Parking Program took effect on July 1st.
Passed unanimously by the Portland City Council last December, the new program aims to make it easier for persons with disabilities to park near their destinations while increasing the availability of short-term parking for all visitors to downtown and other metered parking districts.
The program made two big changes in parking rules: it ended free, all-day parking for people displaying disabled parking placards and it created 105 designated parking spaces reserved specifically for people with state-issued disabled placards and wheelchair-only placards. The count also found that only 26 of those 105 designated spaces were occupied. By state law, people holding wheelchair placards continue to park free.
“There are two (overlapping) groups of people we especially want to hear this news: holiday shoppers and people with disabilities,” said Commissioner Steve Novick, who oversees the Transportation Bureau. “Holiday shoppers should find it easier to park downtown now than it was a year ago. Many of those 1,033 placard holders were all-day parkers; now, more spaces are available for short-term visits, like shopping trips. And we want to remind people with disabilities that while they can park at any available space we also now have 105 spaces specifically reserved for them. We’re highlighting the location of those spaces on our web site.”
High level of compliance
Before implementing the new program, the Transportation Bureau did extensive public outreach and education, printing 10,000 informational brochures for display at libraries, Oregon DMVs and other public locations, as well as placing them directly on vehicles.
During June of this year, before the program took effect in July, parking officers distributed the brochures to vehicles with disabled placards parked at metered spaces. Beginning in July, parking enforcement officers placed warnings on vehicles that violated the new rules. Vehicles were only cited for infractions after receiving at least one warning.
“PBOT’s approach from the start was to help people adjust to the new rules, so we are seeing a high level of compliance,” Novick said.
This year’s annual count shows that of 8,803 parking spaces in downtown and the Lloyd District, 313 were occupied by vehicles with disabled parking placards. Of those 313, more than 85 percent also displayed parking receipts or permits. Thirty five failed to display receipts and were issued a warning or citation.
“The Commission on Disability is pleased to see that the extraordinary efforts that were put into crafting the new disabled parking ordinance have been successful in minimizing the negative impact on Portlanders with disabilities, while significantly increasing the availability of on-street parking throughout the city,” said Joe VanderVeer, Chair of the Commission on Disability.
“Our commission will continue to monitor the effect of the new ordinance and we will work with PBOT to ensure that the disabled parking program meets the needs of our citizens.”
“We appreciate Commissioner Novick’s leadership in creating a solution that meets the needs of people with disabilities and also benefits businesses and a vibrant central city” said Lisa Frisch, retail program director for the Portland Business Alliance and a member of the city’s Disabled Parking Task Force. “Downtown businesses have seen an increase in the availability of on street parking downtown since the program took effect and that benefits everyone.”
For more information please see www.portlandoregon.gov/transportation/disabledparking.
Contact: Jay Rogers, firstname.lastname@example.org, 503-823-5412