Citizens using app to report accessible parking violators in Travis Co.

 About 12 years ago, Mack Marsh realized there was no real enforcement around accessible parking.
   
"Well people use accessible parking and they think that it's a convenience for people with disabilities.  They think it's a place to get in and out quickly, they may only use it for a minute.  The reality is it's a health and safety issue for people with disabilities," Marsh said.

Marsh says he's been hospitalized twice because of people without disabilities parking in those spots.

"Once, I was backed over by a truck because they couldn't see me in the parking lot.  The second time someone had blocked me in my van.  So I overheated in the hot Texas sun in just a few minutes waiting for them to come back so I could get in my van," Marsh said.

So he came up with the Parking Mobility Project and a reporting app to go along with it.

Marsh says the project launched in Hays County a year ago and now, Precinct 3 in Travis County is about to end their 6 month pilot program.

"We've issued just under 600 violations in 5 months with the reporting.  We have 37 volunteers that are out reporting on a regular basis," he said.

Precinct 3 Constable Sally Hernandez is a big fan of the app.

"The whole process is running very smooth.  And we're seeing good results," Hernandez said.

In order for the app reports to become actual citations, volunteers have to be deputized and sworn in at Precinct 3.  Frank Dorvao is one of them.

"There was one day right before Christmas, I believe it was over 30 in one day," Dorvao said.

Here's how it works: Volunteers start with a picture of the front showing the car has no placard.  Then volunteers take a photo of the rear license plate.

Then they take a picture of the entire car parked in the accessible spot.

The data is first sent to Project Mobility...and then to Precinct 3 where the Constable's office reviews each report.

Citations are issued by mail.  There's a minimum $500 fine.  But Marsh says if first time violators take the Project Mobility course, they'll get a break.

"What we do is we leverage those high fines into education.  So with the education course, they pay a reduced fee.  They take the course and then the citation is dismissed.  And that's showing significant improvement in the problem," Marsh said.

Triple-amputee Joseph Montemayor from Houston thinks the app will help him.

"You've got to let people know because a lot of people that are closed minded, they don't see what's in front of you.  And just because you drive a nice car doesn't mean you can park where you want," Montemayor said.

Mack Marsh says as the pilot program comes to an end they are now in talks with Travis County about expanding it county-wide.
   
They say state-wide is not far behind.
   
Worldwide is their ultimate goal.
   
He says right now people from all over the globe are using it anyway...sending them photos of violations.




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