Disabled community activist calls for fight against new Hawaii law

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — A new law meant to curb abuse is not sitting well with some members of Hawaii’s disabled community. 

Those who have a disability placard will no longer be allowed to park for free at metered stalls starting on Thursday, July 1.

Those with disabilities that keep them from reaching or operating the meter can still apply for a permit for free parking, but many think this creates more challenges for the community.

“It’s a major slap in the face to people that have a hard time living anyway” said disabled community activist Linda Wong.

Wong is disabled herself — she lost all of the cartilage in both of her feet.

The language in the law only allows those with physical limitations to apply for a permit, but she is concerned about those with mental disabilities.

“There are different kinds of disabilities, some are physical and some you can’t see. Some people that you can’t see it like traumatic brain injury or something like that they don’t get a disability spot because they don’t qualify because they can walk,” Wong said.

Many with disabilities are on fixed incomes or unable to work full-time jobs. Wong says even something like free parking can help.

Those who pushed for the new law said too many people were abusing the system and enforcing current laws is not enough to stop people from taking advantage.

“Enforcement would be great if we could get greater enforcement that would be very helpful in tandem with this change in the law,” Wong said.

The City was not able to provide how much revenue is lost from placard parking, but a San Francisco audit from 2013 found they lost $22 million and recommended the end of free street parking privelages.

Hawaii has an estimated 102,000 placards as of Thursday, June 22. Of that, an estimated 7,000 holders would qualify for the new permit. Wong wants her community to band together and fight the law.

“Call your legislature call them up and leave a message and swamp their telephones,” Wong said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story listed an incorrect date for when the law will go into effect. The error has been corrected.

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