San Marcos mother calls for help to enforce disabled parking rules

Handicap signs in downtown San Marcos (KXAN photo)

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) – On Tuesday the city of San Marcos will be looking at a program that would allow citizens to pitch in and help enforce some parking laws. The program specifically focuses on people parking in handicapped spaces when they shouldn’t be.

“People who are perfectly able don’t get what the differently abled have to go through on a regular basis,” said San Marcos resident Nicole Ashby.

Ashby’s 8-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Spina Bifida, she’s paralyzed from the knees down and doctors say she’ll never walk. Even though she’s fully capable in every other aspect, they struggle daily with something most people take for granted.

“If someone is illegally parked and there is no available parking for someone who needs it, then more than likely we have to park in the back of the parking lot,” explained Ashby.

Ashby says if she parks in an unmarked spot, other people don’t know they need room to load up which blocks them in.

“It’s very hard for me and my mom to get me out of the car,” said Ashby’s daughter Chelsea Ashby.

“She wants to be able to go out and do things at public places, and trying to find parking to be able to do that and space to get her in and out, it’s hard. Sometimes we can’t go out because we know there’s not going to be parking where we need to go,” said Ashby.

Ashby and her daughter hope a program called Parking Mobility will be the answer to some of their frustrations. It’s an app that allows anyone who sees a violation to report it. Once investigated, that driver could receive a citation.

“What I want is for people to realize that we all have to be nice to each other, be courteous,” said Ashby. “It’s just a common thing; if you know you’re not supposed to be there, don’t be there. Even if you have the right because you have a handicapped parking placard and you’re parked where you’re not supposed to be on the lines, don’t do it because you are still blocking someone else’s rights.”

Ashby hopes the lesson will be learned through volunteers using their smartphones and advocating for those who really need the handicapped parking spot.

San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp will be giving a presentation to city council members on Tuesday. The presentation is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m.

The program is already in effect in portions of Travis and Hays County. According to Parking Mobility, volunteers were to thank for nearly 5,000 tickets in Travis County last year and more than 1,200 tickets last year in Hays County.

Organizers also say the longer the program is in effect, the better it works. Ticket numbers have dropped significantly over the last few years.

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