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Kokua Line

By June Watanabe

Thursday, April 13, 2000

Clearing up confusion
on disabled stalls

Question: One recent rainy night, I parked my car in the lot of a fast-food restaurant in Kapahulu and went in to have dinner. When I came out, I found a ticket for illegal parking. It was only then that I saw a sign bolted to the building overhang, stating it was a handicapped stall. My girlfriend and I were dumbfounded. We had no idea it was a handicapped stall. There was no blue lining and the emblem painted on the ground was very hard to see. I went home to get my camera and upon my return discovered another patron had made the same mistake. Police were still there and no one in their right mind would park illegally when the next three stalls were open. What kind of guidelines are there regarding handicapped parking stalls?

Answer: The only requirement now is that there be a sign denoting such a reserved stall, with no requirement for markings, blue or otherwise, on the ground.

However, the state Department of Transportation will be holding a public hearing in May on proposed new administrative rules that will set more clear-cut requirements for parking for the disabled.

"We are having some problems with the issue of identification of the parking stalls," said Francine Wai, executive director, State Disability and Communication Access Board (formerly Commission on Persons With Disabilities).

On July 1, her office will begin overseeing administrative rules on disabled parking stalls and placards.

There has been some confusion on what's required. In 1997, the city Department of Transportation Services proposed its own rules regarding the design of handicapped stalls and signs. But those rules were shelved because the state Legislature, at the time, also was reviewing the matter.

However, "Some people are mistakenly following what they think is the city ordinance," Wai said.

There is no color requirement under the Americans with Disabilities Act or in state or county law, although the practice has been to use blue. Neither does the law require that a symbol or decal be painted in the stall.

However, a stall for the disabled must have a sign showing the international symbol of access -- the person-in-a-wheelchair graphic, said Kirby Shaw, a program specialist on the Access Board.

Under ADA guidelines (incorporated into state law), places of public accommodation -- such as a shopping mall, store or restaurant with public parking, or government properties where public parking is provided -- must provide at least one disabled accessible stall for every 25 spaces, up to 100 spaces. Above 100, the formula changes.

The ADA also sets standards and dimensions for the stalls. Also, for every eight accessible stalls, one must be van accessible. If there is only one disabled parking space, that space needs to be van accessible.

With Act 308 in 1997, lawmakers made substantive changes to the Hawaii Revised Statutes regarding disabled parking, Shaw said. The intent now is to make the administrative rules conform to those changes.

There still will be no requirement for painting a symbol on the ground. But the proposed rules will require that signs have the wheelchair symbol, plus state three other facts, Shaw said: that the stall is reserved, that a placard or special license plate is required, and that the maximum fine for a violation is $300.

Regarding signs, ADA guidelines generally state "that such signs shall be located so that they cannot be obstructed by a vehicle parked in that space," Shaw said.

Need help with problems? Call Kokua Line at 525-8686,
fax 525-6711, or write to P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu 96802.
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