The Council of the District of Columbia
The Office of Councilmember Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 2, 2012
Communications Director: Kiara Pesante | o: 202-724-8089 c: 202-701-9439
Cheh, City Officials Unveil New Red Top Meters Legislation
Bill will clarify parking rules, enforcement at red top meters across the District
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Councilmember Mary M. Cheh (D–Ward 3), Chair of the Committee on the Environment, Public Works, and Transportation, introduced the “Accessible Parking Amendment Act of 2012,” which was the result of a collaborative effort between her office, the Office of Disability Rights (ODR), the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), and a coalition of disability advocates, including the National Council on Independent Living, to provide a path forward on the red top meters program.
“The District is committed to ensuring that we are fully compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act,” said Councilmember Cheh, who introduced the bill at Tuesday’s Legislative Meeting. “DDOT has marked spaces that it believes are accessible to the disabled with “Blue Top” meters. But, currently, anyone can park at these spaces, making them often unavailable to persons with disabilities. Furthermore, many of these spaces, which may have once been compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, no longer meet the Act’s accessibility standards. The new spaces, marked with red top parking meters, will do so.”
The District has more than 18,000 on-street parking spaces. Yet, in many parts of the District, the demand for on-street supply often exceeds the supply. DDOT is responsible for managing parking in public space in order to maximize the use of these spaces, and determined that 1,800 spaces, or roughly 10 percent, should be reserved exclusively for drivers with placards or license plates signifying that they are disabled.
“For persons who have limited mobility, if the only available parking space is a few blocks away from their destination, a long distance to the stores, restaurants, or offices that they want to visit can be a significant hardship,” said Councilmember Cheh.
The Accessible Parking Amendment Act of 2012 would significantly improve parking for disabled persons while reducing fraud. Specifically, it would:
· Create accessible, on-street, metered parking spaces that are reserved exclusively for the use of persons with disabilities throughout the District. These spaces would be marked with “Red Top” Meters.
· Allow the Office of Disability Rights would inspect all “Red Top” spaces to ensure that they are fully accessible and in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
· Require that all new parking meter equipment be accessible to the disabled.
· Require that DDOT provide notice to all District residents with disabled placards and plates informing them of the new program.
· Require the Office of Disability Rights convene a quarterly meeting with stakeholders to discuss parking for the disabled.
· Require persons parking at Red Top Meters to pay the current meter rates but waive the pay-by-phone transaction fee, which the advocates say is necessary to comply with the ADA.
· Require all off-street parking lots and garages to provide clear signage about whether they are wheelchair accessible.
In February, DDOT began the process of painting nearly one in 10 meters across the District with a red top, indicating that those 1,500 spaces were reserved for the disabled only. The new red-topped meters will require payment so as to discourage the use of fraudulent handicap placards, which previously would have granted an individual free parking at any meter. After feedback from confused residents, emergency legislation in March put a hold on the enforcement of the program until more study was done and the regulations could be clarified. This new bill seeks to do just that, having been drafted with the input of disability rights advocates.
“The Accessible Parking Amendment Act of 2012 is an example of how the District can, with the help of the community, successfully address the needs of all residents in an efficient, collaborative way,” said Councilmember Cheh. “I look forward to moving this bill through the legislative process.”
A hearing on the “Accessible Parking Amendment Act of 2012” will take place on Monday, October 15, 2012 at 2 p.m. in the Council Chambers of the John A. Wilson Building. All who are interested in this issue are welcome to attend and/or sign up to testify. For more information, contact the Office of Councilmember Mary M. Cheh at 202-724-8062.