I am a downtown employee who uses an electric wheelchair. I disagreed (and still do) with the decision to require handicapped drivers to pay for parking. The financial hardship that accompanies the most severe disabilities is being ignored. One in three disabled Americans live at or below the poverty line.
A few individuals abused parking privileges. Now the rest of us are being penalized. [Furthermore], no solutions for the parking issue were created prior to the implementation of penalties.
[But] wait: Correction. There is a solution in the form of the pre-purchased parking passes that the city is offering. And they’re a total joke.
Each pass costs $5 and is valid for five hours. You mark the little numbered bubbles that correspond to the year, month, day and time, display the pass in your window, and you’re good for the next five hours. Since parking is $1 per hour, this is fair, no?
Well, no. The pass is only good for a single use, and you pay $5 for each pass regardless of how long you actually stay in town for. If you’re just running errands for an hour, you’ve just lost $4. That might not seem like a lot but, using conservative figures, let’s say you come downtown an average of three days a week — that’s $15 per week, $60 per month and a whopping $720 each year. If you don’t stay in town for the full five hours, that’s a lot of [wasted] money.
I wonder if City Council and the downtown businesses who pushed for this penalization might have given the issue more thought if they had spent even a day trying to live their lives with dignity in the face of an overwhelmingly anti-disabled society. Having lived in Third World countries, Europe, tiny New England towns and cities from Los Angeles to Boston, it saddens me to say that it is in Asheville that I’ve experienced the most outright hostility towards the handicapped.
Sorry. Next time I’m born, I’ll be sure to do so without this pesky disability.
— Katherine McCrory
Editor’s note: The city of Asheville is aware of this limitation to the passes and is looking into a way to allow them to be used for less than five-hour increments, according to parking services manager Harry Brown.