Vancouver Low-Income Disabled Seniors Get the Shaft

by lewwaters

Regardless of how much I respect some city council members, when I disagree with them, I disagree with them. And, I disagree with the unanimous adoption of the new parking ordinance voted in by the Vancouver City Council last evening, June 6, 2011.

Anyone who has ever been downtown Vancouver knows that parking is a problem. Even with parking meters, cars are there taking up precious parking spots. Shoppers, employees, visitors, all have to vie for precious few parking spaces.

Nowhere is this more critical than around two apartment buildings for low-income disabled senior citizens, the Lewis & Clark Plaza on Broadway and the Smith Towers on Washington Street.

Relatively few of those residents still drive and neither facility provides parking.

Supposedly, we are told that merchants have been complaining of parking spots in front of their business are being taken up by cars parking all day and overnight. They claim that shoppers cannot shop in their businesses because of these spots being taken.

The answer city council, the parking commission and the downtown association have arrived at is to limit parking by disabled permit, which has allowed free parking to disabled permit holders 24/7 to 4 hours. City council approves disabled parking limits downtown

Watching the nearly one and a half hour CVTV Footage of the public hearing at council meeting, listening to the stories from those disabled seniors and the cold-hearted claims made by supporters of the limit is not very reassuring.

Council members brought up some very relevant misgivings. Pat Campbell said he has a problem seeing 8 people as the problem and expressed a desire to take another look at the claim that at 8 AM., 3% of the cars parked downtown were with disabled stickers. Mentioning a friend who took advantage of a disabled sticker by parking all day in front of his business, the thought was put forth that it might be more commuters causing the problem.

Larry Smith said he supports the parking time limit and acknowledges that there is a problem with disabled parking, but can’t say it is centered at Lewis & Clark Plaza. He reiterated he supports the 4-hour limit because businesses need the turn-over to provide opportunity to make an income.

Bart Hansen said he would like to see caveats in place for those seniors, such as grandfathering residents or creating monthly parking permits.

As Jeanne Stewart was seeking clarification on parking requirements when the Lewis &Clark was constructed, city manager Eric Holmes interjected that the ordinance was for all of downtown, not just around the Lewis & Clark Plaza. Ms. Stewart continued that she was seeking to find out if the city had a responsibility to mitigate the problem of parking for those residents and that it was just the first part of the issue she is addressing and if a compromise needed worked out.

Holmes stated a comprehensive review of overall parking is scheduled for August 1 where these issues on compromises could be discussed.

Jeanne Harris reminded all that in the past, consultants had told them to require developers to include less parking to support the higher density that council wants in downtown and that the goal was to make downtown a “transit overlay district.”

All council members expressed issues with the ordinance and the effect it will have on those low-income seniors living downtown, but the vote was unanimous to implement the ordinance with the thought expressed by Mayor Leavitt that they do not create policy for the entire downtown based upon those low-income disabled seniors living at the Lewis & Clark Plaza or the Smith Towers.

This point was made again in comments on the Columbian article by Bill Schmidt, Chair of the volunteer Parking Advisory Committee who twice reminded me that this is not about those low-income disabled senior residents only and “No one is being penalized, a problem is being fixed.”

I am left dismayed that this situation has been discussed for some 7 or 8 years and the impact on those few low-income disabled seniors apparently have not been considered until now. As I replied to Bill Schmidt, “What sort of society are we becoming when entire construction projects might be closed down because of the discovery of some insect someone says is endangered, but we ignore the needs of disabled low-income seniors over multiple years of discussion of a larger problem that involves them too?”

Vancouver Downtown Association Executive Director Lee Rafferty, after expressing support for the ordinance and how “visionary” the developer of the low-income housing downtown was said, “What remains is finding a satisfactory solution to the needs of the residents that is within the original agreements. I am sure we will get there.”

After 8 years of discussion, that “satisfactory solution” for those low-income disabled seniors, which includes more than Disabled Veterans, should have been arrived at first and not rushed through in the 30 day waiting period for implementation of the ordinance to take effect.

That is no way to treat our senior citizens in Vancouver, Washington.

They paid their dues and were the ones building this community before many of those sitting on these commissions were born.

The ordinance should have been shelved until an equitable solution was worked out for those few low-income disabled senior citizens. They should not have to pay the price for others who misuse and abuse disabled parking permits.

3 Comments to “Vancouver Low-Income Disabled Seniors Get the Shaft”

  1. This is a habitual problem with the crackpot concept of smart growth – pushing high density development.

    They never build enough on site parking and most high density housing exports their parking to nearby residential streets.

    That this development incorporates a further crackpot concept of “mixed use” — putting stores under housing just makes the problem worse.

    Bottom line: the people and businesses are victimized by the planners. Again. Time after time – all across the country. This is no oversight – it is by intent because if there is no parking, people will obviously quit driving and start wasting our tax money and their time by using tax subsidized transit. (City planners are really deluded idiots that have sold the idea that they can see the future!)

    Thanks
    JK

  2. This article did not voice any concerns of the seniors themselves — with their names. We are not invisible and inarticulate. Joyce Boles

  3. Joyce, the video that I took down featured comments by those seniors affected, but it was removed due to no views.

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