A legal handicap placard. (Photo digitally altered to cover ID number.)
Will the third time be the charm?
First in an interview with the L.A. Times' Ralph Vartabedian about five years ago, then in 2010 with KNBC's Joel Grover, Off-Ramp has long championed a crackdown on the thoughtless, selfish, so-called people who fraudulently use handicap parking placards, which allow them free, all-day parking at city meters.
It's a big problem. Walk down streets near L.A.'s City Hall, or in the Garment District, and you'll see whole blocks of cars with handicap placards, cars that stay there all day. It means less money in city coffers, of course, but it also hurts local businesses when potential customers can't find parking, and it hurts you when you want to go downtown and can't find parking.
The L.A. Times' Steve Lopez recently got involved, and finally the city of Los Angeles seems to be paying attention. Steve prodded and kvetched about the injustice of the able-bodied blocking parking meters, and the LAPD and DOT staged a sting that netted several drivers tickets that could lead to $1,000+ in fines, and even jail time.
L.A. City Councilman Dennis Zine sat in on the sting, and in an Off-Ramp interview this week, promised to keep the pressure on. "We need to enforce these rules. There's so much abuse. They'll park, won't put money in the meter. They're not disabled. It's outrageous how many people illegally use the placard."
Zine promises action both on the city level, to continue the enforcement stings, and on the state level to make it harder for people to get – and keep – placards.
Zine would not, however, endorse Off-Ramp's proposal to banish these offenders from L.A., but he did admit, "there are a lot of selfish people out there." And he encouraged KPCC listeners to report any abuses they see. You can call Zine's office at (213) 473-7003 or email using the link below.