Disabled parking fees deferred


The Alexandria City Council on Tuesday again deferred starting parking policies that would charge disabled residents to park in metered spaces.

Drivers with handicapped placards currently can park in metered spaces for free for up to four hours but city staff wants to change that as part of an effort to stifle abuse of the system, which police say is rampant. 

Disabled residents and their advocates challenged the concept, claiming it defeats the purpose of accessible parking and that many disabled residents have medical expenses that drown out their income. Chuck Benaugh, chair of the Alexandria Commission on Persons with Disabilities argued disabled residents are being punished for the crimes of others.

Staff members from the citys transportation department compromised with ACPD to allow four hours of parking in two-hour spaces and to create a waiver system for low-income residents. But some council members took issue with one demand: that they get to park four hours free at all metered spaces.

Im in [the] health care [field], Im very sympathetic to the situation, but we have to be realistic here, said Councilman Paul Smedberg. There is only so much we can do.

Smedberg worried it could lead to more abuse by non-disabled residents.

Councilwoman Alicia Hughes opposes the all may park, all must pay concept altogether. 

For me, the balancing act is punishment for those that are doing wrong versus what types of impact it could have on the disabled, she said.