Private and Public Policy Reviews for the Disabled

The First to Go (Revised)

Disabled Parking Spaces

By Stephen Rex Goode, BSW

Since writing the following review, I received a call from Cascade Athletic Club letting me know that my concerns were heard and the situation was corrected. I am very grateful. As I said, they are very good with people with disabilities.

Why is it that disabled parking spaces are the first things to go when a business needs to use their parking lot for another purpose? I see it all the time. People who don’t use or aren’t eligible to use a disabled parking space don’t really see why they are important to those of use who have trouble getting around.


So, when they decide to plan some kind of event where they want to use part of their parking lot for something other than parking cars, they choose the disable spots closed to their doors. The most recent example I’ve seen is at my very own club: Cascade Athletic Club in Gresham, Oregon.

The weekend beginning 4/12/2013, the club is hosting a big racquetball tournament. To make a little extra money from it, they’ve invited Boyd’s Coffee, a local company, to set up a van and sell coffee to people coming to the event. In the photo above, you can see that they’ve set up orange cones to mark off three parking spaces, two of which are painted with the emblem marking them as for disabled people. Also, note the sign on the wall.

The car on the left with the paper in the window is there from a local dealer as an advertisement. There are three such cars on the raised entryway to the club which is to the left of the picture. There is another showroom car inside the club.

boydscoffeeWhile I was there, the Boyd’s Coffee van pulled up and parked to the right, perpendicular to the lines. After it was parked, a minivan was pulled in, another showroom vehicle.

I like my club. No, I’ll even go so far as to say that I love my club. Ordinarily, they are very helpful to people with disabilities. The pool area is equipped with a device for lowering people into the pool who can’t get in on their own. There is a lift from the main floor down to a lower level. They give me a nice discount for bringing in disabled clients. They’ve been awesome.

Yet, when it comes to parking spaces, they’ve been pretty lax. I think that a lot of people have a negative attitude about these spaces. They don’t like that some of us get to park closer to buildings. They see it as a convenience for us rather than a necessity.

For the last three days, my back problem has flared up. I’m walking with my upper body at a right angle to my lower body. Every step is excruciating. I have to walk from something to lean on to the next thing to lean on. Friday morning, when I pulled into the parking lot and tried to park close to the building, I was greeted by the orange cones blocking my way. On my way out, I left the comment in the suggestion box: “Selling coffee is an awful excuse for blocking disabled parking.”

I parked about forty feet behind where you see that I took the picture above, thirty feet farther away than necessary. I really wish that people would view these important parking spaces as inviolate. I know it won’t happen, because enforcement in Oregon is so pathetic, but I imagined Boyd’s Coffee getting a nice $288 citation as well as the car dealer who parked his minivan in one of the spaces.

If you are a company that is planning a special event and you need part of your parking lot to serve a different purpose, please do everything you can to keep the disabled parking spaces available to those who need them.

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