Powerful Sports Car


Parked outside the main branch of the Berkeley Public Library: a Lamborghini Countach. Right out there on the street with all the Volvos and Nissans and VWs. But what got our attention was the fact the car was parked in the primo disabled parking spot in front of the library–parking is becoming very, very challenging in downtown Berkeley–with a disabled placard hanging from the rear-view mirror. In California, disabled plates or placards are available for drivers or passengers with serious mobility or sight issues. Now, I’m just guessing that you need to be pretty limber to get in an out of this car. which is built very close to the ground and doesn’t look like it has a luxurious amount of cockpit space for driver or passenger (sure–looks can be deceiving). And while I can imagine circumstances in which the driver or a regular passenger of this beast might have need of disabled parking dispensation, I find it easier to believe that this is a scam. I mean, if you’re able to climb out of this thing, you’re not impaired enough to require the best parking spot on the block. (Seeing this does make me wonder about the distribution of disabled plates and placards by vehicle, though; how many Lamborghini operators have them? How many high-step vehicles, like Hummers and big pickup trucks? )

[Update: On Monday (March 26), the Chronicle published a story on the increasing use of disabled placards throughout the state: According to the stats the paper published, the number of placards issued has doubled in the last decade, “with 1 issued for every 16 residents” statewide. With 36.5 million residents, that means almost 2.5 million placards are floating around out there (U.S. Census Bureau stats provide some interesting context: In 2005, the agency put the number of residents age 18 and over at 25 million, meaning about 1 in 10 people of driving age have disabled placards. The bureau estimated California’s over-65 population, the group that I’d expect to hold the most placards, to be about 3 million. One upshot of the Chron’s story, which is underwhelming in scope and detail, is that the widespread use of disabled placards, which exempts users from feeding parking meters, is cutting into local government revenues. I still want to know how many Lamborghini owners have disabled plates.]


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