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Traffic Q&A: Can disabled park free in downtown Tacoma

Post by John Henrikson / The News Tribune on April 8, 2011 at 12:21 pm with 9 Comments »
April 8, 2011 12:57 pm

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.”

Two caveats:

■ 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.

Leave a comment Comments → 9
  1. Kevindot1 says:

    I have personally felt for a long time that this law is a huge load of crap. Their handicap spots should remain free, but if they choose to park in the general paid parking areas they too should have to pay like the rest of us. This law makes absolutely no sense at all.

  2. cclngthr says:

    However, Kevin, many areas are not ADA compliant downtown that can handle parking that is wheelchair accessible, which disabled parking spots must be.

  3. thebestofthebest says:

    I don’t pay to park in downtown Tacoma. I just don’t go there anymore. There are great antique shops in Parkland and out on River Road. And guess what? They don’t change to park there……

    Visualize An Empty City !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. thebestofthebest says:


  5. mustangnorm says:

    OK I can understand the handicap parking spots in front of the liquor store in Fredrickson. But the other two signs are reserved for liquor store customers only ?

  6. Please explain to me why handicapped people should park for free? I understand the spots reserved for the handicapped close to entrances but why shouldn’t they have to pay just like the rest of us!

  7. “I don’t pay to park in downtown Tacoma. I just don’t go there anymore. There are great antique shops in Parkland and out on River Road. And guess what? They don’t change to park there……

    Visualize An Empty City !!!!!!!!!!!!!”

    All last week, I drove through downtown. From what I saw, I can’t say that paid parking has hurt.

    But if you want to spend your money on gas, go for it.

  8. CrazyTed says:

    I see people who have a HC plates jump in and out of cars all the time.
    The way they walk so no signs of disability, so I have to wind up parking futher away and I have limited mobility.
    I wish some one would check these people out more often.

  9. @CrazyTed; some people have disabilities, such as heart conditions or other issues that you may not see like a limp, that may preclude them from walking long distances. I’m not saying there aren’t some who abuse it, or family members who park in HC spaces when the disabled person isn’t with them, just realize what you “see” may not be the entire picture.

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