Disabled park for free at meters, not in pay parking lots

Dear Street Smarts, Q: Last Thursday's EV article had a misstatement. Placarded vehicles do not receive free parking in city parking lots. Some cities allow this, but not Santa Cruz! Just go to Walnut Street or any other city-owned lot. You'll see the sign under the 'handicapped' sign saying it is a fee space. We've fought with Mr. Granlund about this. It's actually dumb policy financially. Placarded people can easily park in a street metered place for free.Why should they park at Walnut Street and pay. The spaces in their lots usually are empty because of this. The city would make more money making the lot parking free! Regarding EV charging areas, go to the city lot on Lincoln Street, across from the Farmer's Market. You'll see two EV parking places, one designated for disabled placarded vehicles. There is ALWAYS a non-placarded vehicle parked there. Again, Mr. Granlund defends this policy saying he's 'in compliance with state law.' Don't take my word for it -- check for yourself. Our commission has received numerous complaints about these two matters but we can't do much inside the City of Santa Cruz. Peter Heylin, Chair of the County Commission on Disabilities A: You are correct. Disabled drivers must pay to park in the city's pay lots. Accessibility is behind the pay-to-park in lots versus free meter parking policies in Santa Cruz, said Marlin Granlund, parking program manager. "The Americans with Disabilities Act allows for the free parking of vehicles with either a disabled person plate or placard at on-street parking meters because it is an accessibility issue," he explained. "Persons in a wheelchair cannot access the parking meters and it would have cost the government agencies millions of dollars to retrofit every parking meter, so they made them free." Conversely, disabled people are required to pay at the pay-by-space lots and the pay-on-foot attended facilities downtown because the equipment at those lots are ADA accessible, continued Granlund. "It is a matter of accessibility not free parking," he said. In regard to the charging stations at the Lincoln Street parking lot, if city's install two charging stations in a lot, one is required by state law to be ADA accessible. "This does not mean that it is designated only for persons with disabilities," said Granlund.  "For example, in public restrooms, at least one stall must be designed and designated to be accessible for someone in a wheelchair. That is why the stall is larger. This does not mean that someone without disabilities cannot use the stall." Are you adequately covered? Last Friday, my cousin was rear-ended by a driver with no driver's license and no automobile insurance. He was unhurt in the collision but his car has rear bumper and trunk damage. When he called his car insurance company to file a claim, he was told his insurance only covered liability -- when he hit someone not when he was hit. Back in the mid-1980s, my mom's 1978 red Toyota Corolla was parked on the side of the road when an 18-year-old driver and her passenger plowed into to the back of it, totaling it. The pair were high on PCP. No license. No insurance. Mom was covered for the crash but not towing or car rental. She had to choose between paying for that out of pocket or use part of her insurance claim award check to cover those costs. While the insurance company sued the gal to recoup its losses, mom had the option of suing, too, but she opted out thinking getting money out of the young adult was like getting blood out of a turnip. In my 20s, I had been in traffic a collision where the other driver did not want to get our insurance companies involved and offered to pay cash to repair my ride but hunting her down to get her to follow suite was daunting so I did get my company involved. Turned out, she had a terrible driving record was about to be dropped by her insurance company. Heaven forbid any injuries but being in a car crash is really stressful as your mind replays the crash over and over in an attempt to comprehend what just happened. Being under insured means you have to deal with that trauma but also decide whether to pay for the damage out of pocket, hunt down a tow company and ask for rides from friends or family or pay for a rental car until you figure out what's next for you and your car. Stressful! Let your insurance company worry about all that for you so you can get on with your life and heal from the traumatic experience. That's what you are paying for -- peace of mind. Make an appointment to talk to your agent about your current coverage and whether that is adequate for the "what-ifs" of driving. Being that I just bought a new car and I am the caregiver of my little cousins, ages 7 and 9, whom I am trying to adopt, I recently sat down with my agent to talk about my family's insurance needs. I opted to increase my coverage because, while I may pay more out of pocket for my policy premium, what's the cost of keeping my policy the same and it not providing the level of coverage necessary in the event we are in a crash? My focus should be on helping my family get past the trauma while my car insurance company handles the rest.  
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