Parking placard rules need clarification, reader says

Dear Street Smarts, Q: In your March 7 article on disabled parking someone seems to be misinformed. Could it be the city parking program manager? Several police officers have told me placards are specifically only for the disabled person to go and come from the reserved parking space -- no one else such as caregivers, family, friends or drivers. Thus, it is a violation to use the reserved spaces where someone else from the car goes the in the building while the disabled person issued the placard waits out in the car. That is an abuse of the placard and a citation should issued since it is not being used by the disabled person to assist them with getting in and out of the facility. There are significant penalties in the California Vehicle Code for fraudulent misuse of these placards. Dan Bronson, Aptos A: Marlin Granlund, the city's parking program manager, cited the DMV's Driver Handbook, a Cliff's notes version of the California Vehicle Code, in supporting his answer about disabled parking and placards. Basically, parking in blue spaces is “permitted only for a disabled person or a driver of a disabled person who displays a placard or a special license plate for disabled persons or disabled veterans,” the handbook states. “Disabled people with a placard or special plates may park in special areas for unlimited periods of time, regardless of time restrictions. No one other than a disabled person or a driver of a disabled person may park there. A crosshatched (diagonal lines) area adjacent to a designated disabled parking space is a no parking area." In short, it's OK for people chauffeuring disabled people around to park in disabled spaces with disabled placards as long as the disabled person is with him or her. Placard misuse comes into play when able-bodied people are using the placard for their own gain and the person the placard belongs to is not with them. The driver of a disabled person could be a taxi driver, disabled shuttle driver or a family member. Avoiding parking tickets in Santa Cruz People who found a parking citation on their windshield in downtown Santa Cruz also found a piece of paper that hoped to help prevent that from happening again. Last week, the city's parking enforcement crew handed out “5 Ways to Reduce the Chance of Getting a Parking Ticket in Downtown Santa Cruz” with every parking citation ticket they issued. It suggested drivers:
  1. Park in one an attended parking facility, such as the Locust or Soquel/Front Street garage, to avoid expiring parking meters.
  2. Buy a City ParkCard, which allows motorists to use the card to pay for parking and get a refund of any unused meter time.
  3. Sign up for the Parkmobile pay-by-phone system
  4. Park completely within space markings.
  5. Get a parking permit for a downtown garage or lot if they live or work in the area.
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