Daily 49er

Free parking for disabled drivers, youth program receives funds

City council looking into free parking in city-owned lots throughout Long Beach.

Samantha Diaz, Staff Writer

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Parking in Long Beach might get a lot cheaper – for disabled and handicapped residents, that is. Long Beach City Council moved Tuesday to explore the possibility of allowing disabled drivers free parking in city-owned lots.

The ordinance was brought forward by Councilwoman Suzie Price of the 3rd district, saying she feels that the city laws should line up with state laws to avoid any possible confusion among residents. California law states that handicapped drivers who hold placards are permitted free parking at meters and allowed to park at a green-painted curbs for an unlimited amount of time.

While state law does not address the issue of parking lots, extending the benefit of free parking to city-owned lots would provide a sense of consistency to drivers, while not costing the city too much, according to councilwoman Price.

“If there is a minor revenue loss in the city in order to make it more consistent for handicapped residents, then to me that seems like a very fair trade,” Price said.

The issue was brought to the council’s attention after receiving complaints from the Long Beach Senior Citizens Center on 4th Street.

“[The citizens] have a sense that the city might be intentionally misleading them in order to perhaps get revenue money from writing the tickets, which is absolutely not the case,” Price said.

If passed, the ordinance will only affect city-owned lots where someone is patrolling and allowing cars to enter and exit, but will not affect automated parking lots where drivers enter through a gate or arm that stops the car from leaving without paying. The council discussed finding ways to include automated lots as well, stating that the city is moving toward these kinds of parking lots to replace the patrolled ones.

The council also voted to keep the “Promising Adults, Tomorrow’s Hope” program running for two more years after receiving $1 million from the U.S. Department of Justice during the Obama administration.

PATH is a program developed by Vice Mayor Rex Richardson that gives low income and formerly incarcerated youth of Long Beach higher chances of success by providing occupational training, skills development, mentoring, job placement and post-secondary education.

The funds from the U.S. Department of Justice will go toward the Justice Careers for Youth Program, a branch of PATH that strives to “ensure all disconnected young adults have access to quality jobs and workforce training” according to Richardson’s website.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for the Long Beach youth,” Councilman Dee Andrews of the 6th district said. “I’ve always said a job will stop a bullet, and it is programs like these that keep youth off the street and engage them in learning opportunities.”

With the money PATH received, the program will stay in effect until the end of 2019, when the council will once again face the issue of funding.

The council also moved to file a report on the methods used by the city to put financial policies into practice. The council will review the policies currently in place to see if any revisions or updates are needed.

“I think it is right for us to start having these discussions now well in advance of the budget cycle and discussions leading up to the budget vote,” Price said.

Financial policies are regularly updated and revised every three years, the last time being in 2013. The council will also consider how the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget fits into the city’s long-term financial plan.

Council also approved five-year fee reports on transportation improvement, Parks and Recreation facilities, fire facilities impact and police facilities fees.

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