What's up with handicapped parking in WA state?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/02/28 14:51 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/02/28/381837.aspx

WARNING: No technical content, though I am technically a little pissed

A few months ago, I was in my scooter riding some my recyclables over to the large bins in my apartment complex. It is easy to scoot right over there, recyclables in the back basket of the scooter, and dump them in there.

The space right next to the bins is a handicapped spot. I know because back before I had the scooter I used to drive the stuff over, and I always loved that I could park there when I dumped the stuff (yes, I do have the proper state-issued disabled parking placard).

Anyway, there was a car parked there, tightly enough that I could not even squeeze myself in to get to the bin, let alone the scooter. Not the end of the world, but I noticed that the person had no disabled parking placard or license plate. Same thing for the car next to them (which was not blocking me, but it was yet another handicapped space being illegally parked in).

I'm generally not one to raise a fuss (I'm still getting used to the whole disability thing), so I turned around and figured I'd try my luck another day.

Time passes, and every time I come home I look over there I see that these folks are still parked there. And it is the same cars. I am starting to get mad.

Did I mention that the two cars who seem to be the reqgular offenders here both have current Microsoft parking permits? Don't even gt me started on how obnoxious I think that is.

Anyway, I finally scoot down to the main office for the complex. I pick up the mail, then mention to the person there that there are people who are parking in the handicapped parking spots every day. Should I complain to them or to the Redmond police directly?

She asks me whether there are signs posted.

I have no earthly idea, so I scoot out there and look. No signs, just the pavement nicely painted with the little wheelchair dude. I scoot back and pass this on.

She explains to me that the law in Washington is such that if there is no sign then the police can neither ticket nor tow. They cannot even give a warning.


I checked later, she was right. In RCW 46.61.581:

A parking space or stall for a disabled person shall be indicated by a vertical sign, between thirty-six and eighty-four inches off the ground, with the international symbol of access, whose colors are white on a blue background, described under RCW 70.92.120 and the notice "State disabled parking permit required."

Failure of the person owning or controlling the property where required parking spaces are located to erect and maintain the sign is a class 2 civil infraction under chapter
7.80 RCW for each parking space that should be so designated. The person owning or controlling the property where the required parking spaces are located shall ensure that the parking spaces are not blocked or made inaccessible, and failure to do so is a class 2 civil infraction.

That's all it says -- no sign, then its not a handicapped spot.

So I ask this person at the office whether these spaces are being repurposed, and she assures me they are not. Its just that the signs are expensive.

Double hmmmm.

At this point I start to complain a bit more and point out the fact that there are actually laws about this sort of thing (there are -- RCW 70.92.140, for example).

They sober up quickly enough on that one and finally agree to get a couple of signs (one outside where my apartment is, one next to the recycle bin), leaving the other three "faux handicapped" spaces in their FAUX state, since signs are expensive.

One of those two spaces where the two cars used to park still has a car in it every day. It seems to be one of those same two cars (I guess they are fighting for "their" space). Maybe I should start posting license plates and descriptions. Or maybe I should consider the handicap of their lack of decency as one that entitles them to park there? I hope they are contingent staff and their contracts don't get renewed. Most people at Microsoft are a lot nicer.

I realize that by posting this I may be enabling a whole new crowd of jerks to start taking advantage of this particular loophole, but I hope that people can perhaps be a little better than that. They can rise above their technical right to park in a parking space and see that it is marked on the pavement as a handicapped spot. And at least tey to respect that....


There is currently no HANDICAPPED SYMBOL in Unicode, though it would have loved to have been the sponsor.

# William Sullivan on 28 Feb 2005 1:28 PM:

"Anyway, there was a car parked there, tightly enough that I could not even squeeze myself in to get to the bin, let alone the scooter. "

Spectacularly stupid handicapped spot. Too tight to fit by. And how big is your complex, anyhow, that it needs FIVE handicapped spots? How many people in wheelchairs or missing a pin or two do you have there, anyhow? Frankly, I think about 90% of people with handicapped parking permits don't need them, anyhow. I've seen perfectly healthy people jump out of vehicles and run inside buildings after having parked in a handicapped spot with their permit hanging from the rear-view mirror. I always thought they were mentally handicapped, but now I just think they're lazy douches. I say cut the number of spaces in half, and if you don't need something to help you walk, you get no friggin permit.

# Matthew W. Jackson on 28 Feb 2005 2:00 PM:

I've been told that the law is similar here in Texas, although I've never intentionally tested it in court (nor have I needed to). But I have come across situations where I could not tell if a parking spot was handicapped or not, because there was no sign (as apparently required by law), and the logo painted on the ground had been either washed away or painted over.

If I am ever ticketed for parking in a spot that was poorly marked, and I did not notice it was marked, I would certainly use this law to fight the fine.

But I would certainly never park in such a spot for long periods of time or on a regular basis. (I actually prefer to park away from the main entrance of a building so that I do not have to fight traffic as much when backing out.)

I guess something needs to be done about the expense of the signs.

And I'm *really* surprised that in all of the unicode there is not a handicapped symbol. Do you know anyone on the Unicode board? This should be rectified immediately (or, sometime in the future, whichever is eaiser).

# Zach Glazer on 28 Feb 2005 2:04 PM:

Speaking as a landlord - city/state ordinances require you to have a certain ratio of handicapped spaces / non-handicapped spaces. You are also (at least in ohio) required by law to both have a sign and a painted logo on said handicapped spaces.

It seems to me that your landlord is the person most at fault here for failing to provide adequate sinage for the required handicapped spaces. My advice to remidy the situation, since your complaints to your landlord seem to have fallen upon deaf ears (which techincally might allow them to park in the aforementioned handicapped spaces) is to contact your city zoning/ordinace inspector. They will likely put the apartment complex on notice for failure of compliance for parking space regulations, and cite them, which would make them put up the signs.

Another possibility is that state law only requires one space, so the have the sign on the one space, but have added additional parking spaces with painted logos in hopes that they may remain available for those who need them.

Either way, it is a sad state of affairs when people knowingly park in a handicapped space when they are not themselves handicapped.

# Michael Kaplan on 28 Feb 2005 2:08 PM:

William -- The apartment complex is actually 50 buildings, with 12-20 units per building (1-3 bedrooms each). I do not think there are too many spaces. Also, FWIW the space was wide enough, this car was just parked way too far over. The extra space was on the passenger side (Van accessible, I think they call it).

But speaking as someone who until recently did not look like there was anything wrong with me, I can't help but be a little offended at the notion that just because someone does not look handicapped does not mean they do not need help.

Matthew -- I agree that it ought to be in Unicode, but there are a lot of weird rules about symbols. I mostly agree with them (who would want logos like that symbols Prince was using? <smile>).

Zach -- I admit to being nervous about becoming a cause, or a test case. I feel less comfortable about complaining about stuff once they take care of the immediate issue, but I figured venting here would be okay. :-)

But it is a pretty sad thing that there are people who figure that is their space. :-(

# Scott on 28 Feb 2005 2:32 PM:

Shoot, can't find anything on the web about it. Back when I lived in Wichita, KS. One of my friends mother had started a volunteer program called "snap-it". They went around an photographed cars that were parked in handicapped parking spaces and didn't have either the license plate or their placard displayed. They would submit the photographs to the police who would then mail out tickets. If the person had a placard, but didn't have it displayed that day they often got off without any fines. They courts even had a special designation on the docket.

""Snap-It Docket" refers to the municipal court docket session designated to include any violation(s) of the disabled access parking ordinance in City Code 11.52.020 (25) or (26) and in which a "Snap- It" volunteer is a witness on behalf of the City of Wichita."

She was, of course, hated around the city.

# Michael Kaplan on 28 Feb 2005 2:34 PM:

Scott, I say good for her! Jerks who want to park there should cut off their an arm or a leg. Then they would be handicapped and would be allowed to park there legally....

# Dean Harding on 28 Feb 2005 2:37 PM:

"who would want logos like that symbols Prince was using? <smile>"

Actually, it would have been much eaqsier calling him "U+2B76" or something, rather than "the artist formerly known as Prince". Tehehe :)

# Serge Wautier on 28 Feb 2005 3:21 PM:

I can't believe there is a hot spring (!) (U+2668), a sparkle (U+2747), 3 snowflakes (U+2744,2745,2746)... but no handicapped sign !


# Draco on 1 Mar 2005 2:48 AM:

Are you complaining that the people who park in your handicapped spaces aren't handicapped?
Surely there is a simpler and more direct way of remedying the situation without wasting the lawyers' time?

# Michael Kaplan on 1 Mar 2005 2:50 AM:

Lawyers? Who is calling lawyers? I am just grouching off about people who annoy me for doing selfish things.

# Simon Montagu on 1 Mar 2005 4:18 AM:

The WHEELCHAIR symbol was proposed for U+267F in http://www.dkuug.dk/jtc1/sc2/wg2/docs/n2586r.pdf

# Michael Kaplan on 1 Mar 2005 4:41 AM:

And it looks like it was accepted?


Consensus 95-C22

And it looks like U+267f (WHEELCHAIR SYMBOL) was added to Unicode 4.1, being released very very soon!

# Marty Garins on 1 Mar 2005 6:40 AM:

How many spaces are they required to provide?
Because it seems like the second half of
RCW 46.61.582:

Failure of the person owning or controlling the property where required parking spaces are located to erect and maintain the sign is a class 2 civil infraction under chapter 7.80 RCW for each parking space that should be so designated.

So if they are required to provide the spots and are not doing so they are in violation. At least that is the way I read that statement.

# Michael Kaplan on 1 Mar 2005 6:43 AM:

I'm actually not sure. Personally, I only cared about having two of them made "official" and then if they wanted to repurpose the others I would not fault them for it. My problem is with this "it is a handicapped spot, but the signs are expensive" nonsense....

# Larry Osterman on 1 Mar 2005 12:33 PM:

Personally I call people who park in handicapped spaces morally handicapped.

For a time there were a number of people who parked illegally in building 2's parking lot. Someone (I don't know who) decided to take offense at it and keyed their cars.

They never parked in the handicapped spots again.

Not that I'm recommending vigilante justice or anything.

# Michael Kaplan on 1 Mar 2005 2:37 PM:

Heh heh heh...

I wonder if there were signs up? :-)

There are a few on campus with this problem but there are no serial offenders taking advantage as far as I can tell. According to Microsoft the signs are on order. We'll see....

# Shannon on 29 Nov 2007 10:16 AM:

First I have to say that my father is terminally ill and uses a handicap sign for easier access into buildings.  I would never intentionally park in a handicap spot.

I live in Redmond, WA.  Last night I went a store on Redmond Way and parked in the Value Village parking lot.  The spot I parked in did not have a sign posted.  It was dark and rainy out and I did not see a sign on the ground.  I parked and went into the store.

When I came out I had a $550.00 ticket for parking in a handicap spot.  Once I pulled out of the spot I had to pull up along side of the spot I had parked in and open my door to even see the sign painted on the parking stall.  

I have to thank you for posting this blog.  It will truly help me when I go to court.  Please do not think I am a person to take advantage of the information that you provided.  It angers me when I see people take advantage of others disabilities.  

Remember Jesus is the Reason for the Season

# The Occasional Handicaped on 11 Dec 2007 1:06 PM:

I have a mirror placard that is temporary (6 mo.)  Even though I have the legal permit to park in handicap spaces at any time I only park in them when my Chemotherapy (cancer) and/or Fibromyalgia are really bad.

I was really hurting one day when I had to go get some meds from the store and some guy pulled into the only remaining HC spot near the door and I didn't see ANY HC sticker or placard so I waited to see what he would do.  Turns out this high school kid jumps out and runs in for something, so I parked RIGHT Behind him and waited for him to come out before I slowly got out of my car and limped, hurting and sick into the store.  I took my time and when I came out there was a tow truck about to hook up MY car!

I called the police and HE got a $1800.00 ticket for his 4th offense and his car impounded (he was towed as I later found out in court because he failed to pay the first 3 tickets).  I went to court and he got his license suspended for 90 days as well.

Stand up!  Don't be afraid!  Punish the jerks that think they own the road AND the parking lot!


# Little Fitz on 11 Dec 2007 2:24 PM:

I will take on the City of Sequim, WA and see if I can get our Handicapped parking problem corrected. All payment handicapped signs should also have the vertical sign in front of the space.

Wish me luck !

# Yamini on 3 Jun 2008 11:01 PM:

Shannon, can you tell me if you did successully contest the $550 ticket? I am in the exact same situation and it happened right in my apartment complex. My id is yamini.j@gmail.com

# Carry Stewart on 15 Jul 2008 7:04 PM:

William your comments are very offensive to the handicapped.  You can not always see the reason someone has handicapped parking.  Let's say a heart conditions or arthritis genius!!!  

The only person here that is truly handicapped is you William, because you are stupid

# john j on 6 Sep 2008 7:18 PM:

if i have a handycap parking permit do you get half off     the cost of camping spot in a state park

# Michael S. Kaplan on 6 Sep 2008 11:18 PM:

Laws don't require it and usually it does not happen, but there is no rule against it, either....

# Crabman on 11 Nov 2008 9:44 AM:

After 2 1/2 months since breaking my leg, and now able to drive and get to the stores, I find it so offensive that 90 % of the people I see using the HC spots had no obvious reason to use them. On most occasions, there are no spots left at the grocery store and the people just walk in. I'm  sure there are some that truely need the spots, like my mother that has real trouble walking and tends to fall easily, but come on...... And just to set the record straight I am on crutches still, and as soon as I am able to walk with my boot alone, I will not need special parking.

# squickpeep on 18 May 2009 6:49 AM:

I broke my leg a few years ago, and to make a long story short, due to a doctor's error, I am permanantly handicapped. My ankle was fused about a year after, and at this point, is in very bad shape, and will only get worse. I also have fibromyalgia, and multiple severe back problems. I have had one back surgery, and currently need another, but due to the severity of my problems, am having a hard time finding someone who wants to do the operation. I had a temporary placard for a while, and just recently got a perm one. I also take offense that you would assume someone doesn't genuinely need it, even though you see no walking devices or injuries. A lot of things you can't see. I am in a tremendous amout of pain all the time, and also have two children under 2. I get very annoyed when someone who isn't handicapped, i.e. jumping out, running, etc. I can hide my handicaps a lot, so you may not be able to tell by looking at me, but I would not be able to do those things. I know a lot of people take advantage of a relative's placard, and some people park there while waiting for someone! I think that is ridiculous, taking up a HC space when they aren't even getting out, where there is plenty of room to drop off and pick up.

# squickpeep on 18 May 2009 6:54 AM:

And, CRABMAN, my ankle trouble all started with a severe break in my leg. It is nice you don't use the spots unless you have to, but I think 90% is a bit of a high estimate. I usually check when people are parked or are parking, and most of them are legit. You probably wouldn't think I needed it if you saw me,  but you would be oh so wrong. I am 35 next month, and my husband is 53, also with physical problems, but not to the point of needing a handicap space. Even though he is almost 20 years older than me, he only parks in the handicap spaces when I am with him. Otherwise, he parks in a regular spot, even if it is a good distance away, and he has pain/back issues as well.

# squickpeep on 18 May 2009 6:57 AM:

I recently went to a very busy 7 11 where all spots were full, including the one handicap one. I went in, and the line went to the back of the store. I asked if whoever was in the HC spot to move, as we had a legit placard. He waits and waits before going out, and I had asked my hubby to park behind him. Finally he goes out, and my hubby had decided to move into a spot as it opened. So, he comes back in without moving his car, and I felt really stupid. He got away with it and I looked like a fool.

# CJ on 17 Jun 2009 7:52 PM:

I was sited $250.00 in Silverdale Washington for violating the handicap restrictions. My placard fell off the mirror when we were getting my terminally ill daughter's wheelchair tie downs and seatbelt off her chair to unload her. My van has a pass through to get  to the back. This was  not a disregard for the law. (She was there to see the physical therapist at Harrison Hospital.) I drive a wheelchair accessable van and there is identification outside the van that states this information.You can clearly see there is a llift inside the van.  My daughter has nursing care and both of us can see the blue card near the drivers seat (floor). The officer attached the citation on the drivers window so we were shocked the card was not seen. Granted it was not on the mirror as recommended but it was visable. I was told the officers drive through this parking lot at lunch looking for people to give citations to. How sad is it that this is done to our disabled and very ill  members in our society? The very prople the law was set up to protect. Yes, we will get legal advice and we will contest this-but what happens to those who don't have those options and live on $600.00 per month of SSI? Do they not eat that month so they can pay a $250.00 fine?

# Michael S. Kaplan on 20 Jun 2009 3:57 PM:

The circumstances alone are such that I'm reasonably sure they'd drop based on the perpetuation of the evidence....

# Ben on 27 Jul 2009 6:15 AM:

Stopped by the site while researching other issues, I need to comment regarding the WILLIAMS TYPE. Although it's clear case of abuse of disabled parking privilege, it's offensive by judging person in need of disabled parking privilege who is not VISIBLY disabled. Someone dropped a note into my car once, 'you look good and healthy............leave the place to disabled......bad judgement';  Another time, a lady walked all the way and said 'you are not in a wheelchair'...I can tell you I walk with some amount of pain, with a little unbalance.  There is blue(permanent) disabled placard hang on in the car, a walking cane used whenever needed, and noticeable specially licensed plate with ' Disabled Veteran' in the bottom (where 'Evergreen State' for regular plates). Still, many people acted with insensitivies, ignorance, or simply stupidities.

Hey, if you are really mad at others' privilege, you may kick your wall and get one tomorrow...Or, think before act...

Joan on 31 Oct 2009 7:18 PM:

I live in Spokane WA...90% service connected disabled veteran (20 years) and 2 years ago diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.  I bought a condo in a building that the owner is renting out apartments because condo's just aren't selling.  1 marked handicapped spot (only pavement). Some new young apartment dweller has decided it is his personal parking place (oh, yes no handicapped permit). There are at least 3 handicapped people living in a building of 24 condos. We usually don't use it except when we HAVE to. There are plenty of spaces. I see on ebay the signs aren't expensive. My solution - I'll buy a sign. Second solution.  I'm putting a note on his car asking him politely to not park there with my apartment number.  If he wants to talk disability, we can talk disability. I work for the VA, I see disability all the time.

HappyAngel on 11 Jan 2010 3:27 PM:

My daughter has a permanent disability. She has ones that you can't see. She has had 25 surgeries so far! and out lived her life expectency. I had someone leave a note on my car one time at a restaurant that said if you are going to park in a disabled parking then you shouldn't carry your daughter if you are disabled, and you should act disabled. At that time my daughter was not quite 2 and she was on oxygen...couldn't walk because she was born with 1 lung. NOT ALL drivers are disabled who are parking in the spot. Some are the passengers.

I hate stupid ignorant people... MEAN PEOPLE SUCK! I truly believe in karma...what goes around comes around.

HappyAngel on 11 Jan 2010 3:32 PM:

I live in Lake Stevens, WA. in an APT complex. That has zero disabled parking. I got injured at work and now am permanently disabled. The parking in the complex has little to no extra visitor parking and often have to park on the street. It didn't matter so much to me when it was just my daughter who had disabilities as I would drop her off in front of our Apt. But now that I have them. Parking for me sucks. What do I do to get a disabled parking spot close to my apt? Thanks. Is there a law that requires if there is a disabled tenant in an apt complex they should have one available? Thanks

debbie weaver on 3 May 2010 2:11 PM:

I have a different take on this issue.  I support disability laws when used correctly and as intended but I've learned people with disabilities and handicap placards/plates abuse the law also. I live in an apt complex in Bremerton, Wa next to the State street shipyard gate.  It's an old building with no private parking and we're issued on street permits. There is a "strip" or widened sidewalk parallel to the front of our building where most tenants "try" to park.  Our parking permits allow us to park with a TWO BLOCK radius of our apt. bldg. Unfortunately, many of us who pay rent to live here cannot park close to our building due to shipyard workers who park there and who have handicap plates/cards. They have overrun this area and are inconsiderate of the residents who pay to live here.  I often have to park two blocks away and end up carrying armfuls of groceries or other items all that way, up and down hill if more trips are needed, because I couldn't park in front of my building.   In the snow.  In the rain.  In the cold. In the heat.  The problem ?  None of the areas the handicap are parking are designated handicap spaces. NONE. There is a 1 hour parking limit on the street or strip for UNPERMITED (residential) vehicles yet with no visible handicap designation car after car with handicap permits continue to park here, day after day, and nothing has changed in the 3 years I've lived in this apt complex.  I have asked shipyard workers to not park here; their handicap status doesn't give them the right to park where residents are permitted to park.  They ignore me.  

I end up living my live based on the parking situation.  I just went outside to leave for awhile but stopped--there are 4 vehicles parked on "my" apt strip who have handicap tags and if I move my truck it means another one will park there and I'll have to wait to come home until after all the workers leave the shipyard so I can find another place to park.  If I leave before noon I won't get a parking space before 4 pm.  Period. All the handicap people jockey for our spaces with NO REGARD for the people who  live here.  How would they feel if people parked in their home driveways or blocked their access to decent parking near their homes?  

None of these people use wheelchairs. They limp from their cars to the shipyard gate.  I limp too.  I have back problems and neuropathy in my  lower legs and feet.  Pain all the time.  Get a handicap card you say????  Ha!  What good would it do me?  I STILL wouldn't be able to find a place to park in front of my own home because shipyard workers park here!

I've checked the WA laws and technically they are in violation of the law as there are no posted signs or designated handicap spaces.  I was told by Diamond Parking/enforcement that the law is "lax" and no one enforces it.  That's going to change.  

I got a form from the city which allows a petition to be brought forth with 75% of the residents of State Street signatures that will designate the strip in front of my building as private, permitted parking for residents of State Street.  (there are only a few residences).  So yes, if I'm successful getting this changed, I will with glee sit here and call parking enforcement to ticket or remove each handicap vehicle which parks in front of my building for more than one hour.  It's really sad that it comes to this.  

Handicap persons have valid reasons for griping, but so do regular citizens.  Handicap users disrespect private residences and are arrogant, thinking their status entitles them to abuse the laws.   One tenant is leaving the complex after being here 7 years because his wife is disabled with a broken hip that didn't heal properly and she cannot walk distances to their car.  Even with a handicap plate they often cannot park close enough for her to walk to her apartment because of shipyard workers who abuse this street and their lawful privileges.   So, handicap persons, when you think "entitlement" think of us citizens who also suffer pain and other disability and who cannot even park in front of our own homes because of YOU.

Michael S. Kaplan on 3 May 2010 5:33 PM:

And actually I would argue the real offender is the shipyard that does not provide adequate handicaped parking....

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referenced by

2007/12/02 A whole heap o' handicapped parking issues I've been saving up

2006/03/13 Progress on the handicapped parking issue

2006/03/05 That handicapped placard

2006/02/28 What's up with handicapped parking everywhere?

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