Minneapolis puts time limit on free disabled parking

Rochelle Olson
Star Tribune


Come April 1, free parking for drivers with handicapped tags will be limited to four hours in Minneapolis.

The City Council voted 9 to 3 Friday to impose a limit because of what is believed to be substantial abuse of the free-parking policy. State law requires parking at meters to be free to the disabled, but cities are allowed to impose time limits.

Minneapolis estimates that up to $1 million in parking revenue is lost annually because about 50 percent of the metered spots downtown are occupied every workday by drivers who display handicapped permits. Nobody believes that all those drivers rightfully claim the permits.

The city is going to step up enforcement to make sure the handicapped placards are being used by the people to whom they were issued. The city also will be more closely monitoring time limits at the meters.

In an attempt to help those who truly are disabled, the city also is looking into providing reduced-rate parking to handicapped drivers in municipal ramps.

Advocates for the disabled say the problem stems from both illegal use of the permits and overissuance of them by physicians.

Voting for the change were Council Members Sandy Colvin Roy, Paul Zerby, Barbara Johnson, Dean Zimmermann, Lisa Goodman, Robert Lilligren, Gary Schiff, Scott Benson and Paul Ostrow. Voting against the proposal were Natalie Johnson Lee, Dan Niziolek and Barret Lane. One council seat is vacant.

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