Free Street Parking Ends for Disabled in Baltimore's Central Business District
Updated: Wednesday, July 9 2014, 06:33 PM EDT
Beginning on July 10 all motorists parking on-street in Baltimore City's central business district will need to pay the meter, including those displaying a disability placard or tag.
Currently those with disability placards or disability license plates can park on street meters for free, a policy city officials said results in illegal use by motorists parking for long periods of time and theft of disability placards -- currently the number one item stolen out of vehicles.
"We have performed a number of parking studies that have shown that vehicles displaying disability placards often take up 100 percent of on-street spaces on certain city blocks and remain parked there all day," said Peter Little, Executive Director of the Parking Authority of Baltimore City. "By removing the financial incentive to illegally use a disability placard, there will be more parking turnover and an increased number of available parking spaces as abusers seek less expensive parking options off street."
The initiative is being called ProjectSPACE.
As part of ProjectSPACE, approximately 200 on-street parking spaces with ADA-compliant, single-space meters have been reserved for vehicles displaying a disability placard or tags. EZ Park meters in the Central Business District have also been retrofitted to meet new ADA standards.
All time limits for on-street parking spaces within ProjectSPACE will increase to four hours. The Central Business District is defined as the streets bounded by Franklin Street (north), President Street (east), Key Highway (south) and Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard (west).
"The current free parking policy is just that, a policy and not a law, and was put into place because many people with disabilities found it difficult to use the old crank-turn meters that were present throughout the city for the past few decades," Little said. "Now that the technology exists for people with disabilities to easily use a highly-accessible meter, we can create these reserved spaces and make it easier for everyone living in and visiting Baltimore City to enjoy everything our city has to offer."
ProjectSPACE will eventually expand to Fells Point, Harbor East, Federal Hill, Mount Vernon and beyond, though city officials did not provide a timeline.