City Desk

Bowser Wants To Kill Red Top Meters

Not so fast there, DDOT. Ward 4 Councilmember Muriel Bowser wants to pull the plug on the red top meter program that eliminates free parking for disabled drivers and lets parking enforcement officers ticket drivers who don't move their cars. Mike DeBonis reports in the Post:

"Nobody really quite understands how this came to be or why the mayor decided to move on it now,” Bowser said in an interview. “We really need to take a pause and make sure there’s enough reserved parking. ... This amounts to a very serious policy change, and we have to have a public hearing.”

Bowser added that she’s heard from constituents — particularly senior citizens — who “see it as an additional fee on disabled and senior people and they don’t understand why it’s being unloaded on them at this time without a public debate.”

During the roll out of the first 400 meters, DDOT said the new policy would help fight fraud from people who have come by disability placards illegally. Last week, they announced they'd be installing another 1,100 meters, designating 9 percent of the city's parking spaces for the handicapped. At the time, DDOT spokeswoman Monica Hernandez told us it wasn't about revenue, rather, "it's about striking a balance and providing spaces for members of the community."'

Photo via DDOT

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  • Alex B.

    Disabled parking abuse is rampant. One sting operation in Alexandria found that 90% of disabled parkers were using placards fraudulently. Ninety percent.

    Since these placards let you park for free, it's easy to see why someone would be tempted to abuse the system.

    Likewise, enforcing against the abuse of placards is difficult, next to impossible. The only way to do so is with such manpower intensive operations like a sting. Even so, there's a low likelihood of getting caught, so the abuse will continue.

    That's where the Red Tops come in. Remove the financial incentive for placard abuse, and there's no longer a strong reason to abuse the system. It's a good idea.

    Yes, it's a new fee for those who are legitimately disabled, but such is the price of rooting out the rampant abuse inherent to the current system. Also, they're only paying the same rates as everyone else. All may park, all must pay.

  • Typical DC BS

    @Alex B: Bravo. The horde of construction workers I see all the time downtown getting in around 5:45am near their projects and stepping out of vehicles with handicapped license plates or hang tags is infuriating.

    If seniors or handicapped folks can afford cars, they can afford to feed the meters, just like everyone else.

  • Mr. Remember

    I kinda agree, if you can afford the car you should be able to afford the parking. A broke hip does not equate to being broke.