Disabled parking crackdown

Volunteers ticketing drivers who illegally use handicapped spaces

By KARL SCHWEIZER

Herald Writer

LYNNWOOD — For some people, the holidays are a time to contemplate their blessings and to pray for peace on Earth.

But for some Lynnwood shoppers Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year, the holiday meant war — a war that starts with the battle to snag a parking space closest to retail stores already filled with a writhing, crushing mass of humanity.

The temptation to cheat by illegally parking in a disabled parking space has never been greater, but it could mean a $250 fine for those who do it, warned Lynnwood police spokesman Trudy Dana.

Sure, police have better things to do than write parking tickets. They’re often busy with calls. That’s why much of the ticket-writing will be done by 28 members of a Lynnwood citizens patrol.

The volunteers this week began to receive special police commissions to write the tickets, Dana said.

The public has been warned not to park in the spots without a valid disabled placard, Dana said. Volunteers have been handing out warnings for three years.

"The general public is very considerate about not using those spots," Dana said. "Yet, there are a few people who are just inconsiderate. They just don’t care."

It’s those people who make Ginger Burns’ blood boil.

Burns, a police volunteer, prowled the Alderwood Mall parking lots Friday morning with fellow volunteer Beth Speten, trying to spot folks who just couldn’t walk a few extra feet to get into the early-morning sales.

"How does it make you feel to see an able-bodied person parking in one of those spots, and a disabled person who can’t walk very well or is in a wheelchair has to park in the back of the parking lot?" Burns said. "It’s rude."

The pair quickly spotted a brown Buick sedan parked in a disabled spot near JC Penney. Fortunately for the owner, the volunteers were only able to write a warning. Same time next week, and it will be a ticket.

Speten said she feels no guilt about citing able-bodied people who take up the spots for the disabled.

"You are taking away the freedom of really disabled people to be able to walk into that store," Speten said.

Not everyone seems to understand why the spots must be left for the disabled. Some think it’s all right to park there if they aren’t staying long, Speten said.

One man got very angry when Speten told him he’d have to move out of the disabled space where he was parked, she said.

"He said he was only going to be there for a minute. I said, ‘I’m sorry. You’ll have to move or it’s a $250 fine," she said.

The man slammed his door, spun his tires as he left, and made an obscene gesture, she said.

But most people are understanding, she said.

"Normally, people walk by clapping, or they have a placard and they’ll say, ‘Thank you. We’re glad you’re doing this.’"

The Herald/JUSTIN BEST

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