SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) – Might disabled drivers one day be forced to feed a meter when parking with a blue placard in San Francisco?

That’s just one of the suggestions contained within a report released last Friday by a 15-person committee tasked with evaluating San Francisco’s disabled parking rules.

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Nearly half of the committee is made up of members of, or advocates of, the disabled community. The committee as a whole determined that current parking rules aren’t restrictive enough and aren’t being enforced as strictly as they should. Consequently, the blue placards and meter-free disabled parking spots are being abused in San Francisco.

Those rules have been in effect in San Francisco since the 1970s.

Jessie Lorenz, Executive Director of San Francisco’s Independent Living Resource Center, is a member of the committee and supports changes in policy.

“Increasing the number of blue zones around the city by almost 70%,” she suggested, “so that will insure that there are more blue zones available for people who have legitimate parking placards.”

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The committee has also recommended installing parking meters at those spots. Lorenz said present day technology makes that possible, whereas feeding a meter may not have been possible for a disabled person in the 70s.

“Sometimes folks, at that time, were not able to use the functions on the meters because you had to turn a dial and enter coins and so forth,” she said.

Other recommendations include tightening up the process for securing a disabled placard, and increasing enforcement efforts to better crack down on people who abuse disabled parking privileges.

“People look at it as a way to not have to pay a meter to get parking privileges, but for the folks who really need disabled parking spaces, it makes it a lot more difficult to find the parking and to be closer to the services in the community that they’re trying to access,” Lorenz said.

The committee’s recommendations are being forwarded to the Mayor’s Office on Disability and other community groups for review. Ultimately, it will be up to the Municipal Transportation Agency board to review the recommendations and draft a proposal for the Board of Supervisors to vote on; that’s not expected until late this year.

If approved by the Board of Supervisors, San Francisco would then present the proposed changes to state lawmakers. State law prohibits cities from making such changes on their own. It’s estimated that the state wouldn’t act before 2014, at the earliest.

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