Only In America . . . TM

Copyright © 2002 Frank G. Van Atta. All rights reserved.


It is now illegal for handicapped persons to park in a non-handicapped parking space anywhere within the city limits of Quantillo, Idaho.

"Parking space is at a premium in our town," mayor Gerald Bogmaster said, "and people have complained about the excessive number of handicapped parking spaces that have been set up by the city."

"At first we didn't think there was any basis for their complaints," the mayor explained, "but people were so insistent that we finally did a survey of the number of handicapped parking spaces in Quantillo."

The survey was conducted by requiring every vehicle with a handicapped plate to park overnight in one of the city's designated handicapped spaces on Wednesday nights. Then the mayor had the police check the spots periodically throughout the night to see how many were filled.

What they found was that only about 75% of the parking spaces were filled on any given night. So they hired extra police to drive around town and make sure that there weren't any handicapped-marked cars parking in other parking spaces – or at their homes or offices – on Wednesday nights.

Once they got all of the handicapped person's cars in designated slots, they found that there were still 94 empty parking spaces designated Handicapped only.

Then they required all of the non-handicapped cars to park in unmarked spaces on Thursday nights and ran a similar check. The result was that there wasn't enough room for everyone to have a parking space – there were 38 cars left with no place to park.

"This would seem to verify that the problem is real and suggest a solution at the same time," the mayor said, "but such is not the case."

What the mayor proposed was to simply convert 66 of the excess Handicapped Only parking spaces to general use so that there would be a cushion of 28 parking spaces of each type. The city council agreed, and a contract was issued to do the work.

Then the Federal Government stepped in.

It seems that once a parking space is designated Handicapped Only, it can not be converted to general use without the specific written consent of HUD, the EPA, and the VA.

Still not an insurmountable problem, right? Wrong!

It seems that the Feds won't consent to the change without first having several studies done – and each agency has different requirements and deadlines.

"Once all the various federal requirements were explained to us, it was obvious that it would either take several years or several million dollars to fix the problem," mayor Bogmaster said. "So we decided to simply keep the general parking spaces at a maximum by keeping the handicapped folks out of them. Hence the new law."

But the solution may not be as simple as the mayor thinks: the ACLU has threatened to file a class action lawsuit the first time a handicapped person can't find a place to park.

Copyright © 2002 Frank G. Van Atta. All rights reserved.