Handicapped drivers must pay for parking in Mount Vernon beginning Oct. 30

Drivers with disabilities will be required to pay for parking in Baltimore’s Mount Vernon neighborhood beginning Oct. 30 — the fourth expansion of the city’s ProjectSPACE program, designed to combat the abuse of disability placards.

Forty single-space parking spots will be reserved for drivers with disabilities, and 75 multi-space, EZ Park meters will be lowered to the latest Americans with Disabilities Act standards, the city announced Monday.

The cost to park will be the same for drivers with and without disabilities, and time limits for all meters will be expanded to four hours.

ProjectSPACE has driven down placard thefts by 85 percent in the city since its launch in 2014 and has increased the number of open parking spaces on some blocks by 20 percent, according to Peter Little, executive director of the Parking Authority of Baltimore City.

The program is already in effect in the Central Business District, Harbor East, Fells Point and Federal Hill.

“We expect that Mount Vernon will see similar results,” Little said in a statement.

Mount Vernon is bordered by Mount Royal Avenue to the north, Guilford Avenue to the east, Franklin Street to the south and Howard Street to the west.

The previous parking policy, still in effect in the rest of the city, allows drivers with disability placards or license plates to park at meters free of charge, which officials say led to the placards being the top item stolen from cars.

“By removing the financial incentive to park on-street free of charge in Mount Vernon, [the Parking Authority] anticipates increased parking turnover similar to the effect Phases 1, 2, and 3 have had on parking in the Central Business District, Fells Point, Harbor East and Federal Hill neighborhoods,” the city said in its announcement. “Ultimately, ProjectSPACE makes it easier for everyone to find an available parking space in Baltimore City.”

The program will expand to Hampden, and then to the rest of the city in 2018.

cmcampbell@baltsun.com

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