While many have seen the ubiquitous, blue-striped parking spaces near the entrances of public and commercial buildings, it might be surprising that there are very few local protections to ensure that federally mandated accessible parking standards are followed.
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act set standards for accessible parking for people with special needs more than 30 years ago. However, there is very little code enforcement at the local level, which has led to noncompliant parking lots, restriping that does not conform to ADA requirements, and confusion over how to report parking violations.
Sponsored by Rep. DeShanna Neal, House Bill 175 would update state law to incorporate ADA standards for accessible parking, improve enforcement of accessible parking violations, ensure availability of wheelchair and scooter accessible parking spaces, and enhance penalties for both individuals who illegally park in accessible spaces and entities which illegally repave and restripe non-compliant lots.
The lack of sufficient oversight and enforcement at the local level has led to many parking plans that are noncompliant with ADA rules on accessible parking. In some situations, spaces have been moved further away from the entrance to accommodate EV charging stations and curbside pickup spots. In others, accessible spaces have been omitted altogether when lots are repaved and restriped.
HB 175 would require county and municipal governments to adopt and/or improve regulations and ordinances incorporating these requirements for accessible parking spaces, including the requirement that property owners have a permit and process to ensure compliance for new or modified accessible parking spaces.
Counties and municipalities would be instructed to update their ordinances or regulations with a number of changes, including:
- Require signage for accessible parking spaces and require signs to include a number for each spot and the appropriate non-emergency number to report violations.
- Within one year, restrict restriping/repaving/resurfacing from occurring without the issuance of permits.
- Require all parking lots to submit to the permitting process within five years of enactment or when they restripe/repave/resurface, whichever comes first.
Parking lots with 25 or fewer spaces (the smallest lot size under the ADA) and lots within national register districts/national historic areas would be exempted from the five-year requirement. In order to offset some of the cost of enforcement, counties and municipalities would be permitted to levy up to a $50,000 fine on entities that alter a parking lot without complying with the requirements of this law.
HB 175 has been assigned to the House Health & Human Development Committee.
|HOUSE BILL 175 – Establishing Statewide Standards for Accessible Parking||Currrent Status – House Health & Human Development 5/18/23|
|House Sponsors – Neal, Longhurst, Moore, Heffernan, Minor-Brown, Griffith, Baumbach, Bolden, Lambert, Lynn, Morrison, Williams||Senate Sponsors – Poore, Hoffner, Mantzavinos, McBride, Sokola, Walsh // Wilson|
|House Yes Votes –||Senate Yes Votes –|
|House No Votes –||Senate No Votes –|
|House Absents or Not Voting –||Senate Absent or Not Voting –|
“Most people see the blue signs in front of businesses for accessible parking spaces and assume that everything is exactly as it should be, that the ADA is being followed and people with disabilities have the necessary accommodations,” said Rep. Neal. “As a person who needs to use these parking services and interacts with many others in that community, I know that this is not the case. There are some serious gaps in the system where ADA parking requirements are not being followed, resulting in less parking for people with disabilities – or in some cases, none at all.
“These protections exist for a reason. HB 175 will bring those ADA standards into focus at the state and local levels and ensure that those regulations are being followed and that the disability community has the access that we need when visiting businesses, stores and other locations.”
“While I understand commercial property owners may need some flexibility as they adjust to some major changes in the vehicles we drive and how we interact with our favorite shops and restaurants, our commitment to the basic rights of people with disabilities is not negotiable,” said Sen. Nicole Poore, the Senate prime sponsor of HB 175. “The bill that Rep. Neal and I are putting forward today will help make communities more inclusive to all and create a better path to enforcement when the rights of our vulnerable neighbors are ignored. I want to thank all the co-sponsors who signed onto this legislation, and I look forward to passing this bill in the Senate.”
“Being able to drive up and park at a restaurant or business is a fundamental element of commercial life in Delaware, yet people with disabilities and the elderly routinely find that the places they want to access aren’t available to them, because accessible parking is non-existent, in the wrong place, or badly installed,” said Laura Waterland, project director for the Disabilities Law Program of Community Legal Aid Society (CLASI). “This bill will help remedy this situation and make Delaware’s business, government and cultural establishments more accessible for Delawareans.”
“The State Council for Persons with Disabilities is grateful to Reps. Neal, Longhurst, Moore, and Griffith for working to improve accessible parking throughout our state,” said State Council for Persons with Disabilities Policy Director Carol Shrader. “By taking action to enhance the standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act, to increase penalties for violators, and to clearly define accessible parking as well as access lanes, these legislators are insuring that the parking needs of persons with disabilities in Delaware are safely and adequately met.”
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