Disability spaces getting meters

Disability spaces getting meters

Crews from the University of Illinois this week will begin installing meters in disabled-parking spaces across campus, allowing the university to charge motorists with disabilities who do not have meter-exempt placards.

The UI's installation of 150 meters at spaces designated for disabled parking — where there were no meters previously — comes on the heels of the General Assembly's passage of legislation that essentially created a tiered system for drivers who hold disability placards.

Under the old rules, anyone with such a placard could park in meters for free. To receive one of the new meter-exempt placards, which are yellow and gray, people must have an Illinois driver's license and a physician's certificate showing that they meet certain criteria, including "significant impairments" that make it difficult to access a meter.

The legislation was prompted by allegations of abuse in Chicago, where the city leased its parking meters to a for-profit company. Enforcement of the new regulations took effect in January.

But just because the law allows agencies and municipalities to install meters and charge disabled drivers doesn't mean they should, said Steve Stanley. The disabled resident of Urbana learned of the university's plans to install meters in new spots during a recent visit to the meat science laboratory in Urbana.

"It's a money grab, that's all it is," Stanley said. He has a blue placard, which allows him to park in spaces designated for those with disabilities, but does not exempt him from feeding meters.

Officials with the cities of Champaign and Urbana said they do not have any plans to install meters where there are designated spaces, and no meters, for the disabled.

"We will not pursue doing that at all at this time," said Elizabeth Beaty, administrative services manager for Urbana.

There also was not much discussion on the matter in Champaign.

"There's a cost to putting in meters, the labor and purchase," said Kris Koester, spokesman with Champaign's public works department. "And I think we were also going for the more customer-friendly approach."

Over on the UI campus, meter installation at disabled spaces will primarily occur in lots and garages, according to Steve Breitwieser, spokesman for the UI's Division of Facilities & Services. Installation is expected to continue through the end of this month and into early May. It was supposed to occur earlier in the year but was delayed due to the winter weather, he said.

"The installation of meters will be a transition process. At the start, enforcement of it will be looked at on a case-by-case basis," Breitwieser said.

Beginning several months ago, UI staff started leaving information about the changes coming to the disabled-parking program on the windshields of vehicles in UI lots and garages. Some informational signs also are expected to be installed at the new meters, he said.

After allowing a grace period early in the year, the cities have begun enforcing the regulations regarding meter-exempt and nonexempt in some but not all areas.

Both Urbana and Champaign have decided to allow anyone with a disability placard (meter-exempt or not) to park for free — in the Hill Street parking deck in Champaign and the parking garage in downtown Urbana.

"The way we looked at it was, 'Yes, we know this is coming and we know it's not good for (drivers with disability placards), so we want to be more customer-service responsive and not take away all applicable use of you having a permit," Koester said.

It was just a good idea, Beaty added.

Sections (2):News, Local


News-Gazette.com embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments

thesimpleman wrote on April 22, 2014 at 8:04 am

great thank you for not help out


pattsi wrote on April 22, 2014 at 8:04 am

I thoroughly understand the law has been changed thus causing the installation of meters. And the law was changed because are fellow citizens way north of I-80 bent the misuse of handicap hang tags into knots that now affects everyone throughout the state and any visitor from another state with that state hand tag.

Unfortunately those who have a need for a hang tag usually are not very stable on uneven surfaces, aka the conditions around parking meters all winter long and the sidewalks Since these meters are being installed, then the least that can be done for these individuals to get to the meters is not pile the snow in that area  Further to both cities, it would also assist these citizens if there were more on street handicap parking. Downtown Champaign has one near the city building and Urbana has on Main Street. Why so few?

Gil Penalosa was just in town giving talks about walkable communities.He is the director of an organization, 8-80. The focus is one designs for an 8 year old and an 80 year old then the rest of the citizens will do just fine.

rsp wrote on April 22, 2014 at 10:04 am

The meters are all up on curbs so I don't think you can't get to them from a wheel chair. I've had trouble putting money in some myself because of the designs. I wonder if they really thought this through.

787 wrote on April 22, 2014 at 10:04 am

Any excuse for the Facilites and Services Parking department to grab more money, is a good excuse.

Because I have a motorcycle and a car, I have to pay for TWO U of I parking permits... never mind that I can only drive one vehicle at a time.

This is what passes for logic with those who run the Parking Services department.  It's all about the money, and how much of it that they can take.

Mike wrote on April 22, 2014 at 11:04 am

Maybe think about this from a different angle, and it won't seem so sinister to folks either with or without a disability.

So University employees have to pay to park at work. We can argue about how ridiculous that is or isn't at a later time--for now let's accept that it's a fact of life and part of working at the University.

There are many instances where "members of the public" come to campus to do business, etc., with University units. One could argue that there are plenty of metered parking spaces for those individuals when they come to campus. As a courtesy, and also because of state law (right?), spots are also available for folks with a hang tag showing that they have a disability. Currently, these spots do not have parking meters.

Now suppose that a University employee happens to also have a malady whereby they qualify for a hang tag showing they are "handicapped." This neat little loophole now allows them to park in one of those "handicap spots" whenever they want. Voila! Now they don't have to pay to park at their job (like everyone else) because they have a hang tag that lets them park at a handicap spot.

Two things happen in this situation: a) an employee gets around having to pay for a spot in a parking lot or garage, which might seem unfair to everyone else that works on campus and has to pay a monthly fee and b) a "convenience" spot that is intended for short-term visitors is now taken up all day, every day, by some employee.

I'm sure campus visitors that have disabilities would be more than happy to pay fifty cents or a dollar in order to have a spot next to their destination, rather than have to park a mile away because some employee is taking up the "handicap spot."

I, for one, think this is a great move by campus parking.

C-U Townie wrote on April 22, 2014 at 2:04 pm

Illinois you're so broke you go after every penny, even if it makes you look uglier.

I won't even go into how ridiculous this is. I will make one suggestion. Make it easy to pay the meters. Offer something like the i-Pass. Make it so the meter can electronically read a box that can be placed inside the individual's car so they don't have the added hassle of getting to the meter. Illinois' notoriously awful weather means that getting to the meter may not be that easy. So do these people a favor and give them some convenience. A meter system like the iPass system might work for more than just those in this particular scenario. While there might be some details to figure out, like how to make a specific payment with the iPass (an hour, two hours, etc) I'm sure the brilliant minds in our academic institutions can help out.