New Orleans drivers with disabilities no longer will be ticketed for failing to pay to park in metered spaces under an ordinance passed Thursday by the City Council.
The council voted 6-0 to allow vehicles “bearing a license plate or displaying a hang tag or special parking card” issued to a person with impaired mobility to park free for up to three hours in metered spaces when such vehicles are actually being used to transport a person with a physical disability.
The provision does not allow parking in a fire lane or in areas where the vehicle may be a traffic hazard, the ordinance says.
Advocates for people with disabilities have lobbied for more than two years to have the law changed, said Charles Tubre, systems advocacy specialist at the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities.
Tubre said parking meters, particularly the green devices that accept credit cards and coins and require drivers to prove payment by placing a receipt on the dashboard, place onerous requirements on drivers with physical disabilities.
That multiple-step process, already difficult, is sometimes complicated by the placement of meters in grass or areas where there are no nearby curb cuts to make them easily accessible to people in wheelchairs, said Susan Meyers, an attorney with the Advocacy Center.
“Not only does this (new ordinance) assist people with disabilities, but it actually, in our view, remedies some discriminatory practices that the city has had in organizing its parking in this way,” Meyers said.
Tubre encouraged the council to consider the impact that various “improvements” in processes and procedures, including the parking system, will have on people with disabilities.