Magazine

Handicapped Law Can Affect Value of On-Street Leases

By John Van Horn

The city of Los Angeles is considering “going out” for a public-private partnership on its parking. However, there is a minor problem. Laws in California require that handicapped parkers be given “free” parking both on- and off-street. This, of course, causes a lot of issues.
The gist is that if handicapped parking is free, there are a number of problems. First of all, the potential buyer ­since the number of handicapped permits is unknown. Second, the incidence of cheating is legend.
The potential partner with Los Angeles is going to bid the number down, because of the unknown factors. Professor Donald Shoup has some input:
“I suspect that LA will have a hard time finding bidders for a parking meter concession because so many drivers with disabled placards now park free at meters. The California Vehicle Code states: ‘A disabled person or disabled veteran is allowed to park in any metered parking space without being required to pay parking meter fees.’
“If disabled placard (DP) holders can park free for an unlimited time at meters, I suspect that few investors will want to bid for the meter revenues. In a casual walking-around survey in downtown LA, it looked like about half of all the metered spaces were occupied by cars with disabled placards.
“If a concessionaire tries to increase the meter rates, the results will probably be disappointing. Increasing the meter rates will increase the incentive to abuse placards and will also reduce the willingness of those without placards to pay for parking at the curb. The result may be that DP parkers (many of them fraudulent) will use all the curb spaces, and almost no one will pay for parking.
“The increased incentive to abuse placards may even reduce curb parking availability for genuinely disabled drivers. Bad placards will drive out genuine placards.
“It will be interesting to see how much investors will bid for a Los Angeles parking meter concession. The first thing investors ought to ask is what is the current parking meter revenue as a percentage of potential revenue if all the metered spaces were occupied and the drivers paid the meters. I suspect that the ratio of current revenue/potential revenue is probably quite low.
“To make a parking meter concession marketable, perhaps the city could ask the state Legislature to amend the vehicle code to allow cities to request exceptions from the free-parking requirement, under certain conditions.
“To make charging for DP parking politically acceptable to the disabled community, the city can offer to dedicate all the estimated meter revenue paid by DP users to finance new services for persons with disabilities. For example, the city can bring sidewalks up to ADA standards.
“The new money available for the disabled community will be substantial, because DP meter parkers (both genuine and fraudulent) already drain a lot of money from the city. The city will also need a lot of money to repair sidewalks because of recent ADA lawsuits filed against Los Angeles about inaccessible sidewalks.”
Links to the RFP from Los Angeles and the references Professor Shoup sources in this article can be found at PT’s website, www.parkingtoday.com. Click on “Shoup on LA …” that will appear in the upper left-hand rotating box on the home page.

Article Abstract from June, 2009




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