Handicap Parking Placard Misusers Beware
Parking Enforcement takes initiative to eliminate handicap placard abuse.
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There are many students attending Cal State LA who are disabled and require the specialized handicap parking spots all around campus. However, there are several students who abuse these designated parking spots to park closer to their classes, such as lot 8 located behind the fine arts building.
Janet Lever, Professor Emerita of Sociology, is just one faculty member who has had trouble finding a handicap parking spot in Lot 8. “I must arrive three hours before my day really begins to get on the lot, which fills up by nine-thirty.” This isn’t just because she lives far, it is also because she must compete against those who misuse handicap parking permits.
Apart from arriving early to campus, Professor Lever has taken it upon herself to do “vigilante” work on Lot 8. “Because I’m on the lot so early, I have plenty of time to watch those who get those precious last spots.” While she does label it as vigilante work, Professor Lever feels like she is doing the students a favor when she suspects placard abuse. “I approach them and inform them that campus parking police are cracking down on abuse of placards and they can run numbers to see if the placard is or isn’t in the name of the person with the campus parking permit.” Several students have thanked her and relocated their vehicles. “There’s no question there’s a high level of abuse, “ added Professor Lever.
In Spring 2016, the University Times reported on Parking Enforcement’s new efforts to crack down on handicap placard misusers, which has resulted in less people misusing the placards. This effort, however, has not been enough to deter students from continuing parking malpractice. It should be noted that those who loan a personal handicap parking accessibility placard, to a friend or family member, run the risk of having it confiscated and destroyed.
Parking Enforcement officer Gloria Elias demonstrated the procedure of checking handicap placards during an exclusive interview and demonstration with the University Times. “The only way to know for sure that the placard belongs to them is to run it through our dispatch,” Officer Elias stated. During the demo Elias radioed dispatch with placard numbers and compared the resulting names with the identifications of students who were chosen for random checks.
“I would say wait 20 minutes, find a parking spot instead of trying to park in a handicap spot with a placard that doesn’t belong to them,” said Officer Elias. “There are consequences for it.”
In an email sent to the Director of Parking & Transportation Services, a student wrote, “I am a student at Cal State LA with a physical disability and I park in lot 8 so that I can park in the handicap spaces. When I try to park [in lot 8], sometimes there are no spaces. I notice people who don’t look like they have anything wrong with them park [there]. I would like someone to check to the lot because it’s not fair to those who have a placard for a specific reason.”
Professor Lever did offer a word of advice to students who feel tempted to misuse a loved one’s placard. “Just try to have empathy for those for whom every step is a pain or a challenge and ask yourself if you really should take their parking spot.”
Routine checks from parking enforcement officers happen daily, therefore students misusing placards risk getting caught, fined, and even losing the placard they are taking advantage of. If everyone stops and thinks about whether they really need to park in front of that blue sign, students with disabilities will be able to feel more comfortable and will surely be grateful.