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Disabled drivers won't pay fees at Hagerstown parking meters

July 27, 2011|By KATE S. ALEXANDER | kate.alexander@herald-mail.com

Two weeks after parking meter rates doubled in Hagerstown, officials said the city will not enforce the fee on drivers with disabilities.

Eric Deike, manager of the city Department of Public Works, said last week that he has been "directed" not to enforce parking meter fees for those with disability plates or placards who park in a metered space.

Deike would not say who directed him to stop enforcement.

Maryland exempts drivers with disabilities from paying parking meter fees in the state if the meters do not meet the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to the state's Motor Vehicle Administration website.

Drivers with disabilities can also park for up to twice the maximum allowable time shown on the meter, not to exceed four hours, the website said.

Dave Yanchulis, spokesman for the U.S. Access Board, said in an email Wednesday that the ADA Accessibility Guidelines for buildings and facilities requires parking meters to meet certain requirements, including:

  • Operable parts are within an accessible reach range of a maximum of 48 inches.
  • Parts can be operated with one hand and do not require tight grasping, pinching and twisting of the wrist.
  • Parts require no more than 5 pounds of operating force.
  • Operating mechanisms must be connected by an accessible route and clear space of a minimum 30 inches by 48 inches so that people with disabilities, including those who use wheelchairs, can approach and reach the meter.

"However, these guidelines do not specifically address many elements of public right of ways, such as on-street parking," Yanchulis wrote.

Deike said the only ADA provision for metered parking he was aware of was reach height. And the city is compliant with that ADA provision, he said.

It has been a past city practice not to ticket drivers with disability plates or placards who park in metered spots, and that will be resumed, Deike said.

"The city did not enforce this for a long time, and we will not enforce in the future," Deike said. "Bottom line, I was just trying to do my job."

Previously, the Hagerstown Police Department supervised the employees who enforced parking in the city.

City Police Chief Arthur Smith said the law permitted drivers with disability plates or placards to park for free for twice the maximum time.

Deike said public works took over supervision of parking enforcement from the police on July 5. Hagerstown employs two part-time people as enforcement officers.

Drivers with a disability plate or placard who received a ticket for parking in a meter space can contact the city, and it will probably be negated, Deike said. Individuals can contact Jason Rodgers at 301-739-8577 extension 479, he said.

However, Deike said the city could possibly monitor streets and lots to ensure that drivers with disabilities are not parking for more than the state-allowed maximum time.

"The point of a metered space is to not have someone parking there all day," he said.

He also noted that sworn police officers have the power to write parking tickets, if they see a violation.

City Engineer Rodney Tissue said there are 20 designated handicap spaces in the city's surface lots. Those handicap spaces are not metered, Deike said.  

There are also handicap spaces in the two city parking garages, but he said the parking garage rate of $1 per hour applies to those spaces.  Tissue said he did not know how many handicap spaces were in the garages.

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