DENVER – The City of Denver has not done enough to ensure accessible parking is monitored and maintained properly on behalf of people with disabilities of all kinds, even after recommendations for improvement from Auditor Timothy M. O’Brien, CPA.
“The character of our city is one of accessibility and openness to everyone,” Auditor O’Brien said. “Right now, no agency is taking charge to make sure citizens and visitors with disabilities can readily find a place to park.”
A new follow-up report, out today, indicates that while the Right-of-Way Enforcement Agency and the Agency for Human Rights and Community Partnerships have taken some steps to address the Auditor’s findings, only two of the five recommendations were adequately implemented.
Despite several attempts by agencies involved in the Disability Accessible Parking Program, no agency took ownership of enforcing the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) parking requirements.
The city still needs to identify accessible parking spaces that are not being maintained in accordance with the ADA. Right-of-Way Enforcement has developed an inventory of spaces that are available to the public, but the inventory is incomplete and was found to have inaccuracies. There is also no leadership to make sure those spaces remain unobstructed and usable by ADA standards. This doesn’t uphold the city’s goals of ensuring accessibility for all our residents and for visitors with disabilities.
According to management, agencies have not committed to participate in disability parking enforcement because they do not currently have the capacity to do so.
Both Right-of-Way Enforcement and Disability Accessible Parking Program have admitted that their disability parking enforcement only extends to the public right-of-way and to privately owned lots open to the public. Beyond that, city management has been hesitant to commit to enforcing ADA compliance because of resource constraints and the jurisdiction of ADA enforcement, which is under the purview of the Federal Department of Justice.
“I think the city’s agencies want to fix this accessibility problem, I just don’t think they’re there yet,” Auditor O’Brien said.
In an attempt to follow the audit’s recommendations and enforce maintenance and compliance with accessible parking standards, several organizational changes were made, including moving the parking enforcement program into Public Works. The Disability Accessible Parking Program augmented its disability parking enforcement activities by adding three full-time right-of-way enforcement agents.
“Having full-time, paid staff to monitor accessible parking is a big step in the right direction,” Auditor O’Brien said. “I hope the positions are made permanent to keep at least this level of enforcement beyond the one-year trial program.”
The original audit came out in August 2016. The city agreed to make changes by August 2018 at the latest. At the time of the follow-up, two of the five recommendations were not implemented, one was partially implemented and only two were fully complete.