Jack Garvin and Rex Christian

Phoenix Police volunteers Jack Garvin and Rex Christian patrol the Ahwatukee area for lawbreaker who park in assigned handicapped spots without the proper credentials . Both have been on the job for three years. July 14, 2011- Darryl Webb/AFN

Darryl Webb/AFN

Demand is high for parking during the holiday season and the Phoenix Police Department is reminding the public to leave reserved parking spaces for those who need them.

“Disabled parking or handicap parking is not a privilege but a necessity,” said Detective Walter Olsen of the Phoenix Police Department. “That’s important for people to understand. A lot of us take our easy access to places for granted. It’s not always easy for people to access the same places you and I do and take for granted every day.”

The city of Phoenix runs a “Save our Space” campaign year-round to remind the public about parking ordinances. Several years ago the city passed an ordinance that raised the fines for illegal use of designated disabled parking spaces from $140 to a minimum fine of $288. If at court a judge finds aggravating factors in the case, parking in an illegal spot could cost up to $480.

The ordinance also makes it illegal for parked vehicles to block accessible curb cuts and ramps and to park in the yellow-striped access aisle adjacent to accessible parking spaces, even on private property.

The police department has 12 trained volunteers who are out across the city daily searching for violators. Those Accessibility Compliance Enforcement (ACE) volunteers carefully document instances of illegal parking. Olsen said volunteers may not be out more often over the holidays, but that they certainly see more violators.

The city has set up a hotline number, (602) 534-SPACE (7722), for the public to report violations. For more information about the Save our Space campaign, visit phoenix.gov/eod, phoenix.gov/police, or call (602) 534-1951.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com.

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