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Dec. 19th update: City Council unanimously approved the new disabled parking policy; the new program will be developed in early 2014 and take effect July 1, 2014.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Commissioner Steve Novick
(December 18, 2013) – Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick will introduce a resolution to City Council on December 19 designed to significantly change Portland’s current parking regulations for people with disabilities within the metered district.
The current policy allows free on-street parking for anyone displaying a disabled parking placard. This encourages the use of on-street parking as all-day commuter parking, instead of its intended use as short term parking for shoppers and others taking short trips downtown. It also costs the City an estimated $2.4 million a year in foregone parking revenue at a time when there is a large street maintenance backlog and unmet needs for sidewalks and safety features throughout the City. Finally, there is reason to believe that the lure of free parking has created some abuse of the disabled parking policy – e.g., commuters “borrowing” the placards of relatives.
The proposal would end free, unlimited parking for holders of disabled placards, and instead offer several payment options. Those options would give placard holders a ‘grace period’ at short-term spaces, allowing them to park for up to 3 hours at any space. In addition, the new program would establish at least 30 designated parking spaces for wheelchair users and 50 designated spaces for other holders of disabled placards in order to increase accessibility to high-demand destinations. Finally, commuters with disabilities who do not have workplace garages and cannot use TriMet could buy a permit to park on the street, at the same price as local garage permits.
The new disabled parking program would not affect free parking for people with wheelchair placards, which is mandated by state law.
“I believe that this action will free up parking spaces that have been occupied by all-day users, which means that shoppers will have an easier time finding open spaces,” Commissioner Novick said. “This benefits businesses and all downtown visitors. Meanwhile, we’re giving people with disabilities what they really need – some extra time, designated spaces, and, for those who work downtown and really need an on-street space, a chance to buy one. I don’t think most people with disabilities think they’re entitled to free parking, any more than free gas or free cars; they just want some reasonable accommodations.”
A September survey of the metered district by the Portland Bureau of Transportation found that 1,033 vehicles parked on city streets displayed disabled placards, or about one in nine of all available spaces. That number reflects a steady increase over the years from 586 placards in 2007.
The proposed new program was formed in consultation with the City ofPortland’s Disabled Parking Task Force, which includes representatives from the business community, as well as the Portland Commission on Disabilities and other stakeholders.
The new rules cover currently metered areas – the Central City,LloydDistrict, Central Eastside, and the area aroundOregonHealth & ScienceUniversity. Enforcement of the program would begin on July 1, 2014.
Among the specifics:
The proposed changes also direct the Portland Bureau of Transportation to monitor and evaluate the program in concert with the Commissioner’s office, Disabled Parking Task Force and the Portland Commission on Disability.