'Blue curb' parking for disabled drivers in LA still lacking a year into new program

Drivers with valid disabled parking placards may park in accessible spaces where the curb is painted blue.
Drivers with valid disabled parking placards may park in accessible spaces where the curb is painted blue.
John Rabe

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In the year since the Los Angeles City Council approved a new program to install accessible parking spaces near the homes of disabled people who request them, not one single new “blue curb” space has been installed, according to a new audit from City Controller Ron Galperin.

That's because no single city department was made responsible for the program, Galperin said.

"When you don’t really have one quarterback who is truly in charge of the whole program, this is what occurs,” he said.

The audit cited ineffective collaborations between the city Department on Disability, the Department of Transportation, the Bureau of Street Services and the Bureau of Engineering as the primary reason for the delay. The audit recommends handing administration of the program to the Department of Transportation, with the Department on Disability continuing to provide technical advice.

About 681 city residents have had applications approved to install disabled accessible space since the new program was approved in January 2017, said Geoffrey Straniere, acting ADA compliance officer for the Department on Disability. That number of approved applications is up from about 545 in August, when the controller’s staff collected data.

Despite the large number of requests, no  spaces were installed, partly due to questions of how to prioritize work on them at the same time the city was ramping up a $35 million per year program of sidewalk repairs, Straniere said. Some of the same individuals who would benefit from accessible parking also need renovated sidewalks to complete their routes from vehicle to home.

The city used to have a far more basic blue curb installation service. That involved measuring off the correct space on a curb, painting it blue and adding a reserved parking sign. The parking spaces, while requested by individuals to be close to their homes, are not explicitly reserved for those residents.

However, the program ended in 2010 amid city budget and staffing cuts. That’s also when new state and federal requirements for accessible street parking spaces made them more complicated and costly to install. Today’s blue curbs also come with sidewalk ramps, extra clearance and special signage. They can require taking out part of the parkway and sidewalk if they are mid-block.

The Department on Disability agrees with the controller’s proposal for the Department of Transportation to take over administration of the program, Straniere said. He said he’s also working on a proposal to go to the city council to coordinate installation of the blue curb parking spaces with sidewalk repairs.