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Think Before Pulling Into That Blue Parking Space

September 21, 2002

Three cheers for Irvine Planning Commissioner Anthony Dragun and Police Chief Mike Berkow for bringing attention to the abuse of disabled-parking spaces ("Irvine Stalks Parking Spot Scofflaws," Sept. 16). I am the secretary for WYNGS (When You Need Group Support), a nonprofit association that aids people living with spinal cord injury. We are receiving increasing feedback about this problem and the incredible insensitivity of those people who illegally take handicapped-parking spots. They are late or lazy, or maybe they just have never taken a few minutes to consider the difficulties faced by someone who is paralyzed and finds all the handicapped spots full.

Those handicapped people have to turn around and go home, or they are faced with the prospect of maneuvering a wheelchair across a busy parking lot. Doing so can be extremely dangerous because they are harder for drivers to see. They cannot cut between cars, as an able-bodied person might. And just imagine for a moment having to park in a regular parking space, coming back to your vehicle and not being able to get in because a car is parked too close to the space where your ramp needs to come down--there is a reason why those handicapped spots are so wide.

Maybe it takes a $250 to $1,500 fine from diligent parking officers for abusers of handicapped placards and parking spaces to learn; maybe it takes more. Maybe the DMV should start tracking citations. Or maybe all it takes is a bit of awareness to avoid the fine. Have a heart and make our community a friendlier place for people who already have enough challenges to deal with. Whatever it takes, I hope that Irvine's crackdown does become a model for other communities.

Wendy Turnbull

Woodland Hills

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Let's not forget those people who take advantage of these spaces even though the people they are meant for remain in the vehicle as passengers. Just as bad are those drivers who use these spaces so that their friends or relatives do not have to walk more than necessary while they themselves remain in the vehicle. These people have found a loophole that should be closed. All municipalities should follow the lead of Irvine and crack down on the entire problem.

Donald Smith

Temecula

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I teach at UCLA, and I regularly see students parking in handicapped-parking spaces and leaping out of their cars and sprinting off to class. I have a friend who uses her husband's handicapped pass to buy gas at service stations because she gets special consideration. She also uses it when she goes shopping. The solution is very simple. A photo of the disabled person should be on the pass and that person must be in the vehicle in order for it to be parked in a handicapped space.

Robert C. Thompson

Marina del Rey

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