Parking has been a hot topic in the Historic District recently and one repeated complaint has been that that some drivers, including merchants and even a parking enforcement official, have been using disabled parking placards illegally to secure parking on Main Street.
The Howard County Police announced Wednesday that the department worked with the Maryland Motor Vehicle Association (MVA) to find and cite 19 drivers for improper use of disabled parking placards and others who had no tags at all, according to a statement from Howard County Police.
However, none of those citations were issued in the Historic District.
In an Oct. 12 letter to merchants and residents of the Historic District, Director of Special Projects for the Department of Planning and Zoning Steve Lafferty said that he was alerted, through Facebook, that a parking enforcement officer had parked in a space designated for disabled drivers or those driving disabled passengers.
“This violation has been addressed,” Lafferty wrote, “And he will no longer be working in Ellicott City.”
When the county first announced its plans to change Main Street and Maryland Avenue to paid parking in order to encourage turnover on the streets, several merchants spoke up to say that one of the problems was other merchants who were using disabled parking placards inappropriately.
Lafferty said then that he knew it was a problem and that the county and the police department had worked with the MVA on sweeps of the area in the past.
The recent enforcement operation included the Target store in Columbia Crossing, the Wal-Mart store on Dobbin Road, the Mall in Columbia and Howard Community College, according to a statement from police.
Spokesperson Sherry Llewellyn said that the department has done the sweeps in other locations before and will be doing them again.
Of the 19 drivers who police said were using the placards inappropriately, police said many belonged to family members who were not in the vehicles when cited by police.
Citations ranged from $140 to $350 depending on the violation.
“This is a serious issue for members of our community who legitimately need access to disability parking,” Police Chief William McMahon said in a statement. “We want to send a message to all drivers that these placards should be used only for the people issued the appropriate ID cards.”
Llewellyn said drivers with disabled parking placards are required to have an ID card that verifies the placard is assigned to them.
Ever wonder what qualifies a person for a disabled parking placard or license plate? In Maryland, according to the MVA, a driver must:
- Have lung disease.
- Have cardiovascular disease.
- Be unable to walk 200 feet without stopping to rest.
- Be unable to walk without the use of, or assistance from a device or person.
- Require a wheelchair for mobility.
- Have lost an arm, hand, foot, or leg.
- Have lost the use of an arm, hand, foot, or leg.
- Have a permanent disability that adversely impacts their ambulatory ability.
- Have a specific, permanent impairment of both eyes.