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Handicapped tourists (with placard) getting tickets

MOBILITY-IMPAIRED TOURISTS NOT WELCOME?: Believe it or not, they weren’t in Albuquerque recently.

Several readers called to report this, and local television station KRQE-13 did a segment last month on a family who got a $350 parking ticket after taking their grandmother, who flew in from Texas, to the zoo and used her placard on their vehicle.

That’s because Albuquerque ordinance 8-5-1-30, Disabled Parking, says “it shall be unlawful for any vehicle to park in a designated disabled parking space or any portion thereof unless the driver or occupant has a valid New Mexico state-issued parking placard or license plate and is displaying the placard or license plate.”

Talk about rolling up the welcome mat to any tourist with mobility issues.

The family told Channel 13 that after they got the ticket, “We really didn’t go anywhere else in town. We didn’t shop in Nob Hill. We didn’t shop in Old Town. We didn’t go eat at restaurants.”

And they said they planned to fight the ticket in Metro Court.

On that front, a caller reports he received notices of a higher fine, potential impound and even a warrant for not taking care of his ticket quickly. And that Metro Court has been inundated with the citations, which are dismissed if challenged.

Mass dismissal is believable, since the Motor Vehicle Division website cites N.M. statute 66-3-16 (L) and says “Registration plates or parking placards issued to a person with a significant mobility limitation by another state or foreign jurisdiction shall be honored until the motor vehicle or motorcycle is registered or the parking placard holder establishes residency in this state.”

That reciprocity is again the law of the land in ABQ. Justine Freeman, deputy chief of staff for Mayor Tim Keller’s administration, says, “When we found out about this issue, Mayor Keller directed the Parking Division to make it right and supports City Council in updating the ordinance. (An) amendment was introduced by President Cynthia Borrego and Councilor Diane Gibson on May 17. It is scheduled to be heard at (tonight’s) City Council meeting. Parking is continuing to honor out-of- state disabled parking placards ahead of the passage of the amendment.”

AND PLACARDS SOMETIMES = FREE PARKING: Ronald Goldsmith emails, “Would you please clarify the privilege of free parking with a handicap placard in Albuquerque and elsewhere in N.M.? I understand there is free parking in metered parking on city streets in ABQ and at the Sunport. However, I received a ticket when I parked in a self-pay parking lot at the Old Town Plaza, east of a coffee shop, on May 7. The ticket is marked ‘Failure to Pay Posted Rate’ and the fine is $39, to be sent to PCA-SD, LLC in San Diego.

“If free parking is not consistent in various locations, how should a driver know when it’s free or paid?”

It appears to comes down to whether it is a public or private lot.

Johnny Chandler, with the city’s Department of Municipal Development, says, “Handicap drivers can park for free at any city metered space, parking garages or any other city of Albuquerque-owned parking lot/facility. City ordinance mandates that private parking lots provide ADA-accessible handicap parking. The parking division does not manage parking citations or fines/fees on private parking lots.”

I-40/CENTRAL/TRAMWAY NEEDS SOME TLC: Debbie Simone asks in an email for “any information about the Tramway and Central I 40 overpasses. … Any plans to repaint or landscape any of this area? The overpasses are faded and honestly pretty ugly colors of turquoise and, I think, purple? The exit ramp from westbound 40 to Central is covered in dirt and weeds and does not paint a very welcoming picture when you are exiting into Albuquerque. Just hoping it’s on someone’s list somewhere to be improved.”

Oh, dear. Keep hoping?

Kimberly Gallegos of the state Department of Transportation’s District 3 office in Albuquerque says, “NMDOT has no plans on the radar for Central and Tramway I-40 overpasses. Usually, if there is a new project, those are things that will be looked at. The NMDOT does not do landscaping; however, it will paint the bridges or overpasses if they have graffiti or damage, but there are no plans on any upgrades or painting of the overpasses.”

Editorial page editor D’Val Westphal tackles commuter issues for the metro area on Mondays. Reach her at 823-3858; dwestphal@abqjournal.com; or 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87109.


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