DEAR SUN SPOTS: While we’re on the topic of handicapped parking spaces (Oct. 15). the law does provide for citizen enforcers who can hand out tickets to handicapped-parking violators. The person who is complaining about the parking-space hog would probably be more able to slap a ticket on that car than the police are.

My own pet peeve is the areas around handicapped spots with diagonal lines on them for access. Too often, someone parks there and renders the spot inaccessible for a van with a wheelchair lift. Worse, they’ll park next to a van that’s already there, and then the owner can’t get into the vehicle at all. I’ve been tempted to try dropping my lift on these folks’ cars a few times just to see if they would get the hint.

Parking there carries the same (albeit mythical) $200 to $500 fine that parking in a handicapped spot with no placard carries — and the fine applies to people who do have handicapped parking privileges. If violators were ticketed even 10 percent of the time, it would go a long way toward fixing our budget problems. — No Name via email

ANSWER: Once again Sun Spots turned to Sgt. David Chick of the Lewiston Police Department, who always provides a weath of information. This time he wrote:

“The writer is likely referring to a provision made under state statutes:

“Auburn PD has in the past utilized the Volunteers in Police Services program to monitor some of the designated handicap accessible spaces in the larger retail areas. In order to conduct such an enforcement program, there needs to be the local municipal ordinance as well as, being generally understood, having consent agreements obtained authorizing enforcement to occur on privately owned/managed property.

“The private retailers and services could elect to have their own personnel ‘police’ the designated spaces, which are required by law to be made available, but there needs to be some sort of constable authority or deputizing obtained in order for the collectable fines to be imposed. This is further dealt with in statute:

“It continues even further to specify the requirement of law enforcement services for the enforcement of municipal ordinances when there is no organized local police department:

“The greater fines provision the writer alluded to refers to state statutes that require a sworn law enforcement officer for service:

“That would perhaps be more discretionarily reserved for more chronic or otherwise serious violations. It also introduces the aspect of where the imposed fees return as revenue (local municipality or state).

“So, the short of it is, that the average citizen cannot merely slap a ticket onto a vehicle which they observe parked in a perceived violation; there needs to be some vestment of established authority which is recognized by city and state.

“I believe that the parking enforcement personnel either act on consent agreements to periodically patrol through private retail and services lots, or this is considered a recognized extension of the public way in the same sense that we respond and take traffic accident reports occurring on these properties.

‘I did consult with the lieutenant overseeing support services and confirmed that parking enforcement personnel do make periodic checks of the marked designated spaces on these public access lots associated with private retail/services. We will respond to take action on reported abuses occurring.

“Most of the on-street spaces which come under PD enforcement oversight are parallel parking, and do not have the adjacent diagonal lines for extra side clearance; a few of the angled spaces have incorporated that. Many of the retail/ service lots do have those. Vehicles which are parked improperly are cited when observed.”

On a happy note, Sgt. Chick also said that he was informed by parking enforcement that there was a noted absence of the chronic abuse on the couple of downtown spaces immediately after they were mentioned in the previous column on handicapped parking. Sun Spots is very pleased to hear that — it means they read her column!

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