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Putting a Stop to Disabled-Placard Fraud in L.A.
The Los Angeles City Council recently voted to raise the fine for misuse of disabled placards from $250 to $1,100. The placards allow users to park free and for an unlimited amount of time in metered spaces, and abuse is rampant. The practice means that people who need access to disabled parking spaces often cannot find available spots.
But the focus on enforcement and fines is not a universally accepted strategy. Fernando Torres-Gil and Donald Shoup at UCLA say limiting the number of placards handed out would be a more effective tactic, reports Sonja Sharp:
The so-called two-tier system would divide California’s current placard holders — roughly 2.5 million people, or about 6% of the population — into those with severe mobility impairments and those whose disabilities are less physically limiting, shearing the latter class of many of their existing protections.
But many disability rights advocates do not support this approach, arguing that it stems from the perception that disabilities are always obvious and that many people who have placards do not deserve them. "The obsession with fraud creates a 'culture of harassment' for people who may not fit the public image of disability — wheelchair users who also walk, gym-rat amputees and young mothers with multiple sclerosis and infant seats in their cars," notes Sharp.
Supporters of the tiered system say that the majority of individuals considered disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act do not have severe mobility impairments. As a result, the status of those who do receive placards would be legitimized under the more stringent standards.