In a City already strapped with budget problems, a reported waste of $15 million is hard to swallow. Unless, perhaps, you’re easing your car into a parking spot with a sweet new disabled parking placard. According to the Ex, roughly 14% of metered spots are taken up by placard-wielding cars, making walks for the disabled a little shorter and the parking, free. But does SF have too many parking placards, or too few?
In total, there are 50,742 placards in SF, which translates to about 2 placards per parking meter. According to the SFMTA, metered spaces are occupied 14 percent of the time by vehicles with placards, perhaps one of the reasons they believe that not all of these are legit. The transit agency even uses sting operations to nab the non-disabled who are using the placards under false pretenses.
Disability activist Bob Planthold appears to agree with the MTA, telling the Ex that “there is placard abuse in San Francisco,” and that the 14% statistic is way too high given the number of genuinely disabled people driving in SF.
Director of the Mayor’s Office of Disability, Susan Mizner, isn’t so sure about that, saying that census data suggests that 20% of San Franciscans are disabled, and that “she wishes the placard-usage rate was higher, since that would mean more able-bodied residents were taking public transit.”
Urban planning think-tank SPUR last year suggested that one way for the financially struggling SFMTA could generate additional income would be to charge each disabled placard holder $300/year for the privilege.
At an SFMTA meeting last year, board member Malcolm Heinecke acknowledged that this proposal would require a change to state laws and was therefore not a real possibility, but not before Planthold penned a scathing piece in BeyondChron calling the proposal sloppy and biased against the disabled.
If that’s not enough piling on disabled placard holders, we’ve got one more for you: at a recent pedestrian safety meeting, Police Captain Al Casciato said disabled drivers are a common thread among pedestrian accidents because their special parking placards, which when left hanging in their cars, can create a distraction.