Question: Jerry Brandfas of Parkland has a question about the new paid parking system in downtown Tacoma. “Can vehicles with disabled permits park free in the paid parking sections of Tacoma?” he asks.
Francie Nation of Lakewood wrote in with a similar concern: “Before the City of Tacoma changed the parking rules I could park in any one hour spot all day if I needed to. Now I don’t know where I can park. Because of my handicap I use a walker and need to park close. I also don’t move very fast. As a result I just don’t go downtown any more.”
Answer: State law mandates that disabled parkers are exempt from pay requirements. According to RCW 46.61.582: “Any person who meets the criteria for special parking privileges under RCW 46.16.381 shall be allowed free of charge to park a vehicle being used to transport that person for unlimited periods of time in parking zones or areas including zones or areas with parking meters which are otherwise restricted as to the length of time parking is permitted.”
■ The law doesn’t apply to zones “which the stopping, parking, or standing of all vehicles is prohibited or which are reserved for special types of vehicles.” So, you still can’t park at a transit stop or in a loading or no parking zone, for instance.
■ The person eligible must display a special disabled placard or license plate on the vehicle. And remember, the disable parking privileges apply to the disabled person, not the vehicle. Those abusing the system are subject to penalties, not to mention public scorn and bad Karma.
For more information on obtaining a permit, go to the Department of Licensing website.
More info on the city’s parking program here.