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StarBulletin.com

Disabled park for free because of meter design


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POSTED: Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Question: I can thoroughly understand the need to reserve premier parking stalls for the handicapped in off-street parking areas. I do not understand the rationale for free metered parking, whether on the street or in metered off-street lots. The implication is that the handicapped cannot afford to pay normal parking fees, which, of course, is not necessarily true. Can you provide some insight?

Answer: The financial aspect is not the reason for this free-parking privilege.

Even though not all people with disabilities are unable to feed parking meters, state law allows anyone with a disabled-parking placard or license plate to park for free in metered stalls.

Section 291-55 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes, dealing with “;Metered Parking Privileges,”; says, “;Any vehicle displaying special license plates, a removable windshield placard, or a temporary removable windshield placard ... shall be permitted to park, without payment of metered parking fees, in any metered parking space for a maximum of two-and-a-half hours or the maximum amount of time the meter allows, whichever is longer.”;

Basically, parking meters do not meet the requirements for the Americans with Disabilities Act, said Francine Wai, executive director of the state Disabilities and Communications Access Board.

“;An accessible parking stall has an accessible route from the stall to wherever a person is going, at least in theory,”; she said.

By comparison, a parking meter often is on a curb, is too high or has inoperable controls.

Wai said her office did not initiate passage of the parking meter law. She explained the courts voided parking citations years ago after several people with a disability said they were physically unable to feed the meters.

“;Thus, the (state) Legislature made this exception based upon lobbying by those consumers, and it was passed,”; she said.

While her office promotes equal access in design or policies, Wai said it does not seek subsidies or discount fees for people with disabilities.

“;With respect to the free time at meters, we acknowledge that this policy is in the law because most meters are inaccessible to a part of the population of people with disabilities,”; she said. “;Our preference would be to install accessible meters so that all people could pay equally regardless of mobility disability.”;

Question: I received a package on Monday that came from the Kaneohe Post Office, which had its roof collapse and flooding. The content of the package was waterlogged. Is there any avenue to receive compensation for the damage to the package? I don't believe the sender should be responsible.

Answer: Unless the package was somehow insured, you would not be compensated by the Postal Service, said Lynne Moore, manager of consumer affairs for the U.S. Postal Service in Hawaii.

If it was insured, then you can file a claim. See hsblinks.com/uk for more information.

There were no reports of injuries or damage to mail or packages after part of the post office's roof collapsed Monday morning following heavy rain.Officials were still assessing damage and “;trying to get the office back,”; Moore said yesterday.

Although the Kaneohe Post Office's retail services were shut down Monday, carriers were able to make deliveries.

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