By Phil Matier

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS)— A new report finds the use and abuse of disabled parking placards in San Francisco cost the city $22.7 million in lost meter money last year.

According to the city controller’s report the number of placards has more than doubled since 2001. In 2012 they counted over 60,000 placards in San Francisco. That’s more than twice the number of metered parking available. Overall in the Bay Area, there’s more than 450,000 of these placards.

But the issue isn’t just having an impact on the city, it’s costing other drivers too. When you roll through downtown and notice the increase of these placards, keep in mind that whether or not they’re legitimate, these placards exempt drivers from paying the meter for up to 72 hours. That’s free parking and a savings of about $55 a day.

So with San Francisco’s congestion pricing parking system in place and you see three to five cars with placards on the block taking up space, that contributes to driving up the price when you go to put your money in those new solar-powered computerized parking meters.

We can assume that some of these placards are being abused, because there’s no way the numbers could have climbed the way they have if people aren’t scamming the system.

Yes people are getting older and this does cause the number of placards to go up, but another question is for the legitimate users: are they parking at the store and coming in and out to run an errand, or are they pulling into a space for an all-day freebie?

Other cities do charge rates for disabled parking as a regulatory measure, but lawmakers in Sacramento simply don’t want to go there.

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