Dear Eastsider: How do you disable a disabled parking space?

Frederick from parking-poor Echo Park wants to know what to do about a disabled parking space on his street that is no longer needed:

“I live on the 1300 block of Allesandro St. in Echo Park, near the corner of Reservoir. At one point there were tenants in one of the apartments that had handicap placards on their vehicles, and somehow they managed to get the city [to] paint one of the parking spaces on the street blue and put up a handicap space. Aside from the frustration of seeing the space mostly unused while they parked in the driveway in front of their apartment, they are now gone from the building. Parking can get scarce here and I am wondering what recourse we have to restore this parking space to normal.”

It looks like Frederick will have to track down those former disabled neighbors or the owner of that apartment building to get the blue curb zone painted out. First, a little background about those blue curbs. The city’s Department of Disabilities receives on average about 100 blue zone curb requests a month, said management specialist Ralph Acuña. Those requests, after being reviewed, are forwarded to the Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT), which sends out engineers to inspect the locations to see if there is room for a blue curb.

Once painted blue, the approximately 20-foot-long parking space can be used by anyone with a disabled parking placard – not just the person who requested it. The blue curb remains blue indefinitely until some requests to get rid of it, said LADOT spokesman Bruce Gilman. The requests must be submitted to the LADOT district office serving your council district. Since Fred lives in Council District 13, he must file a request with the LADOT’s Hollywood-Wilshire Field office. Transportation engineer Joe Stevenson said the Hollywood-Wilshire office receives about 20 requests a month to install blue curbs but very few to remove them – only about four so far this year.

Stevenson said the request to eliminate the blue curb must be sent in writing to his office from either the person who originally asked for the space or, if that person has moved away, from the owner or manager of the property. Stevenson said he’s extra careful about requests to remove blue curbs because he has had a few residents falsely claiming the disabled spaces were no longer necessary. Such false claims could result in a fine or even jail, he said.

“I can’t just have the guy down the street saying they don’t need that handicapped zone anymore,” Stevenson said. Also, warns Stevenson, that blue curb is still only for the use of drivers with a disabled parking placard even if the person who originally requested the zone is gone. So, don’t even think of parking in in the blue unless you want to end up paying a ticket with a lot of green.

Photo by The Eastsider

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