A number of people in Oshkosh, Wisconsin are frustrated with the growing problem involving the area’s handicapped parking spaces. At popular grocery stores and retailers, such as Wal-Mart, people with a disabled parking sticker may have to drive around the lot for quite some time or park at the far end of the lot, because there simply aren’t enough spaces to go around.
“At times it’s discouraging because that means I have to park way out where there are no other cars around and then feel bad because I’m double-parked,” said Ginger Beuk, 44. “I’ve had notes left on my windshield from people asking me why I am taking two spaces.”
Beuk is not alone in her frustration. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 establishes guidelines regarding the number of parking spaces that must be marked for disabled parking-permit holders, but the number doesn’t seem to be enough in many cities and towns across the country.
Most people think that the problem is people who should not be using the spaces doing so illegally.
“It has been an issue in our state,” said Alicia Boehme, an advocate with Disability Rights Wisconsin, a private non-profit organization that works to ensure the rights of citizens with disabilities. “So much so that the legislature decided to address the issue in their last session.”
However, there is an even larger issue at play, one that has to do with demographics instead of abuse. All areas are seeing a huge influx of applications for disabled parking permits as the Baby Boom generation ages. To illustrate just how big of a challenge keeping up with demand has become, consider these statistics:
- In 2010, 140,766 permanent disabled parking permits were issued in Wisconsin, with an additional 35,969 six-month temporary permits.
- In 2011, both numbers increased by 2,000.
- Through August 2012, 100,108 permanent and 25,361 temporary permits have already been issued.
The American’s with Disabilities Act of 1990 requires that facilities with 26-49 parking spaces must have at least one spot reserved for disabled parking. Parking lots with 50-1,000 spaces must have 2% reserved, and lots with more than 1,000 must have 3% reserved. The problem is often more challenging for smaller retailers, who by law do not have to have any disabled parking spots if their lots have fewer than 26 total spaces.
Are you seeing similar problems in your city or town?