If you are a North Riverside resident who possesses either handicapped license plates or a placard from the Illinois Secretary of State and want to reserve a parking spot on the street in front of your home, you’ll have to follow some new rules beginning next spring.

North Riverside trustees voted 5-1 on Oct. 19 to adopt the new handicapped parking program, which seeks to provide those who need it a parking place close to their front doors while providing enough parking for everyone else.

The system in place right now, said Village Administrator Sue Scarpiniti, is very loosely enforced and is used by some to clear out a space in front of their homes for friends, family and caretakers, preventing anyone else from using the space.

“It’s unfortunate that people don’t want other people parking in front of their homes, but we don’t have that luxury in our community because of how tight the parking is on our streets,” Scarpiniti told trustees at a meeting of the village board’s Development Committee on Oct. 12.

There are 41 households presently participating in the program, with a number of those on residential streets east of Desplaines Avenue, where parking is at a premium. Once a household is granted such a space, the village has no mechanism for checking to see if it’s still needed from year to year.

In some cases, the spaces have endured even after those requiring them have died or moved away.

According to the new ordinance passed by the village board on Oct. 19, anyone who wants a reserved handicapped parking space in front of their homes must meet specific criteria and will have to renew that permission annually during the village’s vehicle sticker renewal process. The annual vehicle sticker renewal deadline is April 30.

“The goal of the program is to provide the most convenient access for those that have disabilities to their homes,” Scarpiniti said.

Applicants must prove they have current handicapped license plates or a placard and they must reside permanently at the home, according to the new rules. The residence must be located in the village’s single-family residential district. No reserved spaces will be allowed along 26th Street, 17th Avenue or Cermak Road. 

Only one permit per resident will be issued regardless of the number of cars in the household. A distinct vehicle sticker to be affixed on the driver’s side of the windshield will be associated with a specific vehicle, preventing it from being provided to others.

Any vehicle parked in the space, other than the one approved for the sticker, will risk getting a $250 parking ticket.

The stickers will not be available to caretakers and they will also not be given to residents whose properties have side driveways that provide closer access to their homes’ entrances.

“We want to provide the service to those who need it, but we want to provide them with the closest access,” Scarpiniti said. “Parking is at such a premium on our streets on both the east and west sides of the village that’s it’s difficult to accommodate everybody’s request.”

Because the village will now have to enforce the rules, Scarpiniti said applicants will be charged $100 for the first year of the program to help recoup some of the cost for that enforcement and pay for signage.

Afterwards, there will be an annual $25 renewal fee plus a $10 fee for the disabled parking vehicle sticker, for a total of $35.

The fees, Scarpiniti said, “will be worth it for those who need it and weed out those who don’t want people parking in front of their houses.”

Scarpiniti said next year’s operating budget is likely to include a part-time parking enforcement officer to avoid having sworn officers spending time policing residential street parking.

Trustee Marybelle Mandel cast the lone vote against the change, saying she favored dropping the $25 annual renewal fee and $65 of the initial fee, which is going toward the purchase of new signs.