Disabled Elans find little parking

By Augustine Ugalda

Parking on campus is difficult for everyone these days, but some disabled drivers may find themselves walking half-a-mile, or more to get to classes

This presumed oversight is directly related to the seemingly endless construction going on at East Los Angeles College.

Currently, there are three primary parking areas for disabled drivers.

North of the swim stadium, disabled drivers will find 16 spaces to park, while at the new ASU lot on Cesar Chavez, 32 spaces are available and finally, the stadium parking lot accommodates 18 cars.

This may seem adequate to most, but the fact is that these three lots are all situated on the western half of campus.

No disabled parking is available on the east side of campus where the recently opened Performing and Fine Arts buildings are conducting classes and where the H and G classrooms continue to host classes.

The most extreme case for disabled drivers would be to have a class in an S building after parking his or her car in the last, available, disabled space in the stadium parking lot.

That individual would have a walk of approximately three-quarters of a mile to reach the S buildings and that is simply too far for most disabled drivers.

Finding a parking spot is a hot issue for most campus commuters, and it is difficult to get excited about a lack of parking for disabled drivers who many perceive as privileged.

Simply because a disabled driver may leave his or her car and walk away does not mean that there is no compelling disability involved.

The facts are that Californiaโ€™s disabled parking program regulates the issuance of disabled placards and applicants must have a solid medical reason to be granted a placard.

Drivers are considered disabled if a heart, lung or circulatory disease is present, or if there is any disorder that limits the lower extremities and the presence of vision problems, which explains why some drivers do not exhibit visual impairment.

Placards are issued for a two-year period and must be renewed unless there is a permanent disability present.

The school is under obligation to provide an adequate number of disable parking spaces by California law.

A personal, scan and count of available parking at ELAC reveals that the school can accommodate approximately 2,000 vehicles at any one time, while there is a total of about 70 disabled spaces.

The landmark 1990 American with Disabilities Act dictates that public facilities must provide one disabled parking space for every eight parking spaces available.

A quick mathematic equation indicates that ELAC disabled parking falls far short of the 1 to 8 ratio mandated by the ADA standards with one space per every 28 parking spaces available.

That shortfall does not reveal the complete picture at ELAC when considering the fact that nearly all spaces lie a great distance from some of the most used facilities on campus.

How does designating a disabled parking space three-quarter of a mile away from a classroom satisfy the needs of disabled students, faculty, staff, administration and visitors?

The simple answer to that question is that it does not.

Construction on the newest parking facility located at the corner of Collegian Street and Floral Drive is in full swing.

Right next to that construction site, between the site and the Performing and Fine Arts facility is an empty space that will become the new Transit Center.

This space is fenced-off with no current construction being done, so why cannot this space be used for disabled parking?

This space could provide access to the S, H and G buildings that are currently in use and as an alternative parking spot for the Nursing Center and the F and E buildings.

For those who may think that this issue is not worth getting riled-up about, please consider that this issue affects all of us.

The disabled are part of us.

They are our parents, relatives, schoolmates and friends.

They come from all walks of life and they deserve the benefits that the ADA provides.

We created the ADA.

We are creatures who feel and care about the less fortunate.

Our compassion, morality, ethics and sense of fair play are what separate us from the animal kingdom.

We take care of our own.

I t โ€™s n o w t i m e f o r t h e administration to do the same.

augalde@elaccampusnews.com

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