Off-Ramp | Off-Ramp host John Rabe and contributors share thoughts on arts, culture, and life in L.A.

Grover and Rabe go off on people who fraudulently use handicap parking placards.

A couple years ago, I walked down Second Street with Ralph Vartabedian of the LA Times, who is currently kicking butt on the Toyota story. We counted how many cars at meters had handicapped placards. It would’ve been easier to count the ones without them, because I could have done it with the fingers on one hand. We figured the problem was California’s incredibly lax placard policy.

This is a problem that really fries me. I’m a taxpayer. I bought the damn meter, and I have a right to a fair shot at parking there and getting a ticket. And here were hundreds of people who got free parking.

Turns out it’s worse than that.

Joel Grover of KNBC-Channel 4 turned his sights on the situation after discovering that every street parking space in one downtown neighborhood was taken by a car with a handicapped placard. He found that the problem of easy-to-get placards is compounded by the fraudulent use of these placards and – until his story aired and embarrassed the city – the utter lack of enforcement.

Joel joins me this week on Off-Ramp to talk about his undercover investigation. Follow the link to watch Joel’s stories on the interweb.

For the record: Joel and I are all for the legitimately handicapped using placards as much as they need to. The placard abuse he documents is also hurting disabled people who can’t take advantage of their legal rights.

Please leave your stories of parking meter woe below ... whether from placard abuse or meter failure.

(Photo: c. 1935: “View of a street in downtown Covina, perhaps Citrus Avenue, with cars parked at parking meters. There is snow on the cars and on the street and sidewalk. A Bank of America branch is at middle right.” LA Public Library photo archive.)