Volunteers target shoppers who park in reserved parking spots

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- The stress of holiday shopping is hard enough. But the experience is usually compounded by jockeying for a parking spot. 

It's that time of the year when drivers are reminded not to park in spaces reserved for people with disabilities. Misusing these parking spaces is more than an inconvenience to people who really need them, especially during the busy holiday shopping season when parking lots are full. It's illegal and could cost you a pretty penny.

Garvin Smith is part of the Phoenix Police Department's Accessibility Compliance Enforcement (ACE) Unit. It is made up of volunteers who are trained and equipped to issue citations for parking violations. 

During a four-hour patrol shift Smith says he can check between 400 to 500 handicapped spaces.  

"Of those 400 to 500, I might find anywhere from two to four violations. Either no plate or no placard," Smith said.  

The Phoenix Mayor's Commission on Disability Issues and city of Phoenix Equal Opportunity Department created the "Save Our Space" campaign to remind the public about the importance of saving accessible parking spaces for people who really need them. 

In collaboration with the Phoenix Police Department, the campaign calls for a strong community commitment to follow existing parking ordinances.  

Fines for tickets can range from $288 all the way up to $562.  

The city also has set up a hotline number, 602-534-SPACE (7722), for the public to report violations.  

For more information about the Save our Space campaign, visit phoenix.gov/eod, phoenix.gov/police or call 602-534-1951.