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Editorial: Crack down on handicapped parking cheats

1-5-06 Handicapped parking space front 5843 s Kolmar. Brian Jackson/Sun-Times

1-5-06 Handicapped parking space in front of 5843 s Kolmar. Brian Jackson/Sun-Times

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Updated: November 6, 2012 6:23AM

When people abuse Chicago’s disabled-parking system to grab their own private places on public streets, they create two classes of victims.

One group includes people without reserved spots who have to circle the neighborhood that much longer to find an open spot by the curb.

The other group includes people who are truly disabled. If the whole system is seen as one that’s rife with cheating, eventually they will find it harder to get a spot marked off in front of their homes.

On Wednesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel took on cheaters who reserve on-street parking spots in front of their homes. He introduced an ordinance that would limit the total number of disabled-only spaces to no more than 20 percent of available parking spaces on a particular block. And the law would make it clear a restricted parking spot is for the disabled person only, and that relatives have to park somewhere else.

Those are good steps. But what’s needed is a thorough audit to weed out people who have on-street parking spaces reserved in front of their homes even though they don’t deserve them.

A 2007 Sun-Times investigation found numerous instances of able-bodied people who use a reserved parking spot for years after the disabled person moved away or died. The Sun-Times found cars with out-of-state plates and even cars whose owners had transferred deceased persons’ placards to their own cars.

Everyone would like their personal reserved parking spot. The city must ensure they go only to those who deserve them.

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