RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- City leaders are facing a backlash after they voted to cut the amount of time people with handicapped placards can park in Richmond's busy Central Business district.
"It takes me a certain amount of time to get out of my vehicle,” said Carolyn Armstead, who uses a walker to get around. "I have mobility problems, I have heart problems and I get out of breath and everything."
Armstead said she thinks the city's plan to put restrictions on handicapped parking times a terrible idea.
In May, all but one Richmond City Council member approved reducing free handicapped parking from four to two hours, which include areas near I-95 to the north and east, the Downtown Expressway to the south and Belvidere Street to the west.
“The primary reason is to encourage more turnover,” Richmond Department of Public Works spokesperson Sharon North said.
North said too many times cars with disability placards are staying well beyond the four-hour limit, keeping others from snagging a space.
“We really want to make sure that parking is ample and available for everyone." However, North also said that the city also wants to "be considerate of the fact that people who are disabled do need some extra time, so give them a couple of hours.”
Restaurant owner Carlos Silva agrees and said he thinks the change will draw more customers.
“We’re always looking for more customers to develop the Arts district. I believe that if the parking is available people will come to downtown,” said Carlos Silva, Owner, Bistro Twenty Seven.
While she doesn't like the change, Armstead said she will follow the new law.
“Yes, I'm going to do my best, because as a Christian, we want to do what’s right,” Armstead said.
North said the change in the city law also prevents drivers from misusing handicapped placards. She said the new times are now in effect, but said warnings will be issued until June 30.
Violators will be fined $20 and $20 for every half hour they park over the two-hour limit.