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Washington Wants More Disabled Drivers To Pay For Parking

Flickr Photo/Richard Cassan

A state work group is arguing that more people with disabilities should feed the parking meter. Currently, anyone with a disabilities placard can park for free.

That suggestion, which came from a report by the work group, is among several to find ways to eliminate abuse of disabled parking permits. More than 700,000 permits are active in Washington, according the Daily Herald of Everett.

(The work group specifies, however, that those who use a wheelchair but can’t physically reach the parking meter could still qualify for free parking.)

Sylvia Fuerstenberg of The Arc of King County argues that’s an unwieldy proposition. The Arc advocates for the rights of disabled people.

“The people that we support with disabilities, most of them live on Social Security, which is less than $800 a month,” Fuerstenberg said. She said the payment system would be a burden.

And it’s not just about money, she said. It’s also about time. She noted it can take a disabled person longer to get around, and that a running meter poses a problem.

Rather than an all-or-nothing approach statewide, the report recommends that cities and counties make their own rules about free or extended parking.

Fuerstenberg thinks that sounds like a headache. She called it a complicated system that will be harder to access.  

“People will be confused,” she said. “I think it’s silly.”

Other recommendations include stricter rules to obtain the parking permits and imposing harsher penalties for fraudulent users.

The state Legislature is expected to take up this issue during the upcoming session.

Year started with KUOW: 2006