Earlier this week, we published this help desk by Kirstin Lindermayer about handicapped parking and signage. Reader Rose Marie Mann wrote in to share her similar experience.
I just wanted to say that the same exact thing happened to my husband and I in 2009. My husband is a quadriplegic and uses a powerchair. He drives a modified vehicle with hand controls and a ramp. We had a doctor's appointment at Thomas Jefferson Hospital and parked in a handicapped accessible spot on Chesnut Street around 8AM right under the exact same ambiguously-worded sign. When our appointment was over, we walked back to where we parked our car at about 9:30AM and it was gone. Needless to say we were initially terrified. I remember making a frantic phone call to the police because I thought our car was stolen, and then they helped us figure it out. Our car was in the impound lot in South Philly. Since that was our only mode of transportation into the city and we had travelled from Yardley, we had to take the bus to the South Philly lot and we had to make two connections to get there. We got our car out of the lot and I can't remember the exact amount we paid to get it out, but it was over $150 from what I remember. We just decided to pay our PPA fine and not fight it, but now I wish we had fought it. My husband was in the middle of getting his PhD economics at the time, and being a true economist weighed the cost of "fighting City Hall" with just paying the fine...and paid the fine. Given the location of these particular spots on Chesnut Street near the hospital, it's really unfortunate that the signs are worded so poorly. The experience of being towed like that is a particularly hard slap in the face after accompanying your loved one who is not feeling well to a doctor's appointment. Thank you for this article. I bet it's happened to even more people than you think, and it's absolutely heartless for the city to leave those signs up and then tow people who are disabled and often visiting the hospital. Though we do love the city and actually currently live in Center City, it left a really bad taste in our mouths for a while.