I mean, sure, I perpetrate minor cons from time to time – driving a little too fast on the freeway or calling in sick to stay home and watch television – but there's no overarching objective to it all.
I've been aware for some time of the handicapped-license-plate scheme that seems to be all the rage in Bay Area cities. In case you weren't aware of this one, here are the parameters:
Somehow, perfectly healthy people get these plates from doctors, or they use a car owned by a disabled relative. Either way, I can't remember the last time I saw someone who actually looked disabled get out of a car with the blue tag.
Not only do they park in the few handicapped spots in parking lots, they also get free, unlimited parking at all parking meters in Oakland and San Francisco.
So, little surprise that people somehow scam their way to get these things. Why pay $40 a day to park at Embarcadero Center when you can get free street parking courtesy of our “compassionate” government?
I was shocked this morning to read in Matier & Ross' column that the situation has reached the point where “50,000 placards are held by San Francisco drivers.”
Just as an FYI, San Francisco only has around 750,000 residents. Some percentage of them are under the driving age, and some percentage don't even have cars. This must mean that between 10 and 15 percent of the people in San Francisco are disabled. Is that even possible?
Of course it's not. It's just one more example of the everyday cons we've come to expect from our fellow citizens. And, heaven forbid the government do anything about this. That might risk offending the small but important voting constituency of disabled people.
I can't be the only one who has a problem with this whole situation. Every time I go to downtown Oakland to take care of one matter or another (I avoid it whenever possible), I have a terrible time finding parking. And, inevitably as I walk down the streets toward my destination, I see lines of cars parked at expired meters with blue tags hanging from their rear-view mirrors.
So what then is the solution? Let's pretend for a moment that we don't live in a Marxist state and something might actually be done about this:
Any time someone is caught using someone else's disabled permit, the penalties should be severe. Not the $100 mentioned in the Chronicle. Violators should be prosecuted in a meaningful way.
Placards should not entitle holders to free parking at meters. There's just no rational explanation for this policy.
Probably, the disabled person should lose his or her placard upon more than one infraction. I realize there is some possibility that the disabled person is being terrorized into allowing the placard's use, but my guess is in general they allow it because they see no downside.
Standards for giving out disabled placards should be much, much more restrictive. A city the size of San Francisco should have maybe 5,000 of them issued, not 50,000.
I realize this problem has less import than the violence plaguing the East Bay, but it's these sorts of quality of life issues that make a place less livable and set up the preconditions for anti-social behavior. It's a simple fix, and it should be implemented.