A heated Debate Over Disabled Parking Abuse Rages on a local Facebook page

by Placerville Newswire / Feb 05, 2017 / comments

Dwayne Nystrom posted some pictures and asked a question,

"It usually takes a lot to get my feathers ruffled. I see disabled parking being missed used all the time. So when I came across this today on the way to my son's basketball game I was more than upset, not only one spot misused but all of the parking and accessible access was blocked. Does being a county agency make you exempt from the law? And should county or the driver be fined? Any other driver would."

The question elicited many responses, most being polarized and strongly stated.  On one side was those that thought it a petty issue not worthy of questioning, and on the other was those that were feed-up with what they see as disabled parking abuses.  At the crux of the spirited debate was the question of whether certain agencies are exempt from marked disabled restricted parking.  It was not a question if an emergency vehicle, like police or fire, were using the spot for an emergency related response.  It was a question of wether a non-emergency exception existed for some to use the parking for purposes other than disabled parking.

The thread got heated when some said that the spaces were unused and that no one was inconvenienced.  

One poster even went so far as to write,

"The OP [Original Poster] was NOT impacted, just Butt-hurt. They are not handicapped NOR WERE ANY HANDICAPPED PERSONS IMPACTED EXCEPT THOSE STUDENTS [W]HO NEED THE BUS ACCESSIBLE..."

Janny Kenyon responded,

"the OP is my ex neighbor who was paralyzed in an accident. He has been confined to a wheelchair for several years. So yelling at me is not going to make your statement any less FALSE! Tell me how parking across all the available handicapped spaces made the bus accessible to anyone who was disabled? The bus would have been just as accessible parking across the same number of regular parking spaces while leaving the accessible spaces open so that all those handicapped students you are so worried about could have actually been able to get out their wheelchairs and get unloaded out of their vehicle. The people organizing and performing this service are awesome, they just need to rethink the whole parking issue. The law doesn't allow them to park like that."

“I know Mr. Nystrom and he is one of the nicest people you would ever meet, and is not one to complain frivolously. He is entitled to that parking spot by law. The van could have parked itself in any other area of the parking lot, even just a few spots down to where they weren't parked in the handicapped spots. Apparently they came long before the basketball game started and had the pick of the entire lot in which to park. There was no reason for it, and it made someone's day a little harder for them.”

So the question is who can park in the restricted parking and that is determined by how the law is codified regarding the use.  It turns out the answer ultimately lies in the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as of March 15, 2012.  The State of California can ADD to the Federal rules, but cannot be in conflict with them due to the Supremacy Clause (meaning that Fed laws overrules local laws).  And Local municipalities like the incorporated area of Placerville or South Tahoe can also ADD rules but they must also conform to higher levels of law.

Except for emergency use, in California the use of the disabled parking spots are restricted to those with special permits only.  That agencies, such as a 501(c)(3), can apply for such a permit, if they are transporting disabled persons.


Controlling Law



-- The U.S. Department of Justice issued the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards on September 15, 2010.  After March 15, 2012, the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards became the only option for compliance with the federal requirements.

-- The Division of the State Architect develops accessibility regulations for both government facilities and privately owned public accommodations and commercial facilities.  These accessibility regulations must meet or exceed the requirements of the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards.

-- Violations of the 2010 Americans with Disabilities Act Standards, even technical ones, are violations of California Civil Code section 54 (c) and may lead to lawsuits over technical violations for fractions of an inch.


The "STATE OF CALIFORNIA, DEPARTMENT OF GENERAL SERVICES AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (ADA) GRIEVANCE FORM" is available online coordinating California's laws with the ADA. http://buildingincalifornia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/ADA-form.pdf


Essentially, the federal Act sets the minimum standards for handicap parking spaces and California law or local ordinances can only make the law more restrictive but cannot interfere with the intent of the federal act. In 2013 California law was forced to conform to the standards set by the federal ADA.


  • The Department of Justice published revised regulations for Titles II and III of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 "ADA" in the Federal Register on September 15, 2010. These regulations adopted revised, enforceable accessibility standards called the 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design "2010 Standards" or "Standards". The 2010 Standards set minimum requirements – both scoping and technical – for newly designed and constructed or altered State and local government facilities, public accommodations, and commercial facilities to be readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities.  State and local government facilities must follow the requirements of the 2010 Standards, including both the Title II regulations at 28 CFR 35.151; and the 2004 ADAAG at 36 CFR part 1191, appendices B and D.



(a) It is unlawful for any person to park or leave standing any vehicle in a stall or space designated for disabled persons and disabled veterans pursuant to Section 22511.7 or 22511.8 of this code or Section 14679 of the Government Code, unless the vehicle displays either a special identification license plate issued pursuant to Section 5007 or a distinguishing placard issued pursuant to Section 22511.55 or 22511.59.

(b) It is unlawful for any person to obstruct, block, or otherwise bar access to those parking stalls or spaces except as provided in subdivision (a).

(c) It is unlawful for any person to park or leave standing any vehicle, including a vehicle displaying a special identification license plate issued pursuant to Section 5007 or a distinguishing placard issued pursuant to.

(Amended by Stats. 2009, Ch. 200, Sec. 12. Effective January 1, 2010.)


Who Can Park in Handicap Restricted Spaces?


California law requires that only those who have a handicapped placard or license plate may park in special parking spaces for the disabled. To qualify for one of these, an individual must have impaired mobility that is documented by a healthcare professional.


In addition to individuals, agencies can be permitted: “Organizations and agencies involved in the transportation of disabled persons or disabled veterans may apply for a placard for each vehicle used for the purpose of transporting disabled persons or disabled veterans.” VEHICLE CODE - DIVISION 11.22511.55.  (a) (4)


Where Do These Restrictions Apply?


California Health and Safety Code Section 19955:

(a) The purpose of this part is to insure that public accommodations or facilities constructed in this state with private funds adhere to the provisions of Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 4450) of Division 5 of Title 1 of the Government Code. For the purposes of this part “public accommodation or facilities” means a building, structure, facility, complex, or improved area which is used by the general public and shall include auditoriums, hospitals, theaters, restaurants, hotels, motels, stadiums, and convention centers...


This parking lot was at Camerado Middle School and California Government Code Section 4451 includes the location:

(a) ...this chapter shall be limited in its application to all buildings and facilities stated in Section 4450 intended for use by the public, with any reasonable availability to, or usage by, persons with disabilities, including all facilities used for education and instruction...that are constructed in whole or in part by the use of state, county, or municipal funds, or the funds of any political subdivision of the state.


Sometimes things happen that make disabled parking temporarily unusable and the code addresses this in California Government Code Section 4451. (f)

Administrative authorities, as designated under Section 4453, may grant exceptions.., but only when it is clearly evident that equivalent facilitation and protection that meets or exceeds the requirements under federal law are thereby secured.


Who can do something about it?

-- ARTICLE 1. Authority to Remove Vehicles [22650 - 22711]  ( Article 1 enacted by Stats. 1959, Ch. 3. )

(a) A peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, or any regularly employed and salaried employee engaged in directing traffic or enforcing parking laws and regulations of a city, county, or jurisdiction of a state agency may remove any vehicle from a stall or space designated for physically disabled persons pursuant to Section 22511.7 or 22511.8, located within the jurisdictional limits in which the officer or employee is authorized to act, if the vehicle is parked in violation of Section 22507.8 and if the police or sheriff’s department or the Department of the California Highway Patrol is notified.

(b) In a privately or publicly owned or operated offstreet parking facility, this section applies only to those stalls and spaces if the posting requirements under subdivisions

(a) and (d) of Section 22511.8 have been complied with and if the stalls or spaces are clearly signed or marked.

(Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 404, Sec. 17. Effective January 1, 2005.)