Handicap parking flap raises awareness, opportunity - KSLA News 12 Shreveport, Louisiana News Weather & Sports

Handicap parking flap raises awareness, opportunity

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Handicapped parking violators can receive a tickets that come with hefty fines. Handicapped parking violators can receive a tickets that come with hefty fines.
The officer who parked in this space was criticized for it, and the restaurant rearranged their handicapped parking spots soon after. The officer who parked in this space was criticized for it, and the restaurant rearranged their handicapped parking spots soon after.
Taking a picture with a smartphone and using the Parking Mobility app can result in a fine for the suspected violator. Taking a picture with a smartphone and using the Parking Mobility app can result in a fine for the suspected violator.
SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) -

The recent flap over a Shreveport police officer parking his unit in what appeared to be a handicapped-designated space at a local restaurant has raised awareness, and created an opportunity to get the word out about what can be done to call out violators.

When asked if he sees handicapped parking violations a lot, Shreveport's Downtown Development Authority street supervisor Eric White says, "It's our biggest problem." He says it happens three days out of the week.

White spends his days looking for violators. When he finds them, "They get really aggravated," he says. "But they're the violators." If he doesn't spot the proper handicapped identification on a vehicle parked in a designated spot, either on the license plate or inside the car in plain sight, he writes a ticket. "$300 is a very big ticket."

A lot of handicapped parking spaces are legitimately occupied by disabled people, but according to the DDA, some of them don't always display their handicap tags properly.

White says even if they are, in fact disabled and possess the proper identification, they're still in violation. "It's still on them, because it wasn't in sight, so they've got to go through the process."

for those who do take the time and care to display the proper credentials, like Diane Young, the bigger problem is the abuse from those who don't have credentials at all. "There are a lot of people who just don't care," she says.

Mitch Iddins with New Horizons is an advocate for those with disabilities. He says he thinks people illegally use handicapped designated spaces simply because it's convenient for them. But he says there is a potential solution. It's a web-based program called Parking Mobility. "We actually went before the city council about three months ago - actually had the project director come and talk to the city council."

City Council member Jeff Everson represents District B, which includes downtown Shreveport. He says he's interested in the Parking Mobility program, but feels that the council needs to learn more about it.

Parking Mobility project director Mack Marsh says, "It's extremely friendly. Anyone with a smartphone can just point and click." Taking a picture with a smartphone and using the app can result in a fine for the suspected violator. "It automatically locates you. You take three photographs of the offense that you see, hit submit." That submission is then sent to the local governing body for review.

It's a program he's also hoping to implement near Austin. "We're working right now with Hays County, which is adjacent to Travis County, and hopefully Travis." And he hopes to do the same in Shreveport, pointing out how the incident involving the Shreveport police officer seemed to attract a lot of attention. "Obviously, when a police officer parks illegally, it's just a good example of the general community awareness of the importance of accessible parking."

The pictures of that parking job also turned out to be a good example of just how willing people are to blow the whistle on someone, no matter who they are. In this particular case, the officer was not found in violation, and the management of the restaurant ended up rearranging their handicap parking spaces soon after the incident. As explained on the Superior Grill Facebook Page, "Amid recent events, we have actually decided to move our handicap parking spaces closer to the entrance with the ramp. This incident has spurred discussion about our handicap parking, and we haVe come to realize that it is really not that accessible."

Some KSLA News 12 viewers also questioned whether the space as it originally was laid out was even up to code, pointing out that there was no sign posted as required by law. According to the Shreveport Fire Department, an ADA -compliant handicap parking space is 96" wide, features a painted icon on the space and a sign featuring the same icon displayed 60" minimum from the ground.

One handicap-designated parking space is required for every 25 spaces in a parking lot.

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