The Tempe City Council voted in its Tuesday evening meeting to improve the accessibility of parking for people with disabilities and keep City Manager Charlie Meyer on the job.
Rosa Inchausti, Diversity Manager with the city of Tempe’s Diversity Department, said before the meeting that the city recognizes people with disabilities need access to the parking spot, the sidewalk and the building’s entrance.
She said the city has always complied with the Americans with Disabilities Act, but this new ordinance goes “a few notches” beyond the legal requirements.
“We’re just looking to make quality of life easier for people with disabilities,” Inchausti said.
Ed Mitchell, Tempe resident and member of the city’s Mayor’s Commission on Disability Concerns, said ahead of the Council vote that the ordinance makes it against the law to block accessible parking spaces, the isles around those spaces and the curb ramps leading to sidewalks.
“Armored cars would block accessible spaces because they’re closest to the door,” Mitchell said. “Hopefully, On Oct. 10, they’ll get cited if they do that.”
He said the time allowed to assist a person with a disability at alleys and loading curbs, which are typically restricted to delivery trucks, has been extended from five to 15 minutes.
Breaking the new law comes at a steep price.
“The fine is minimally $250 for any of the parking, curb ramps or access isles,” Mitchell said. “For forgery, (of the disabled parking placards) it’s $300.”
“What we want people to know is that we’re serious about having accessible parking areas for people and protecting them,” said Mitchell.
Council members approved the ordinance by a unanimous vote.
In other action, City Manager Charlie Meyer hung onto his job by a narrow margin as the Council voted on the continuance of his employment agreement.
“I don’t think Charlie recognizes in his actions the importance of diversity in Tempe. In my opinion, Charlie has not disciplined department heads who did not meet job expectations,” Councilmember Ben Arredondo said in the debate leading up to the vote. “Charlie does not communicate with the council very well. And, finally, Charlie does not value his Tempe employees.”
Councilmember Onnie Shekerjian said in support of Meyer: “Mr. Meyer came at a time when there was a lot of change about to take place and the economy took a huge dip. Because of his financial expertise and because of the quiet leadership he does show, we have been able to fare far better than other cities in terms of making sure that people are not laid off.”
“He has asked some city staff members to think outside the box and to question the way they do things. That makes some people a little uncomfortable at times,” Shekerjian said.
Shekerjian said: “I’ve found Mr. Meyer to be someone who rolls up his sleeves and gets involved and quietly does the heavy lifting. And, many times, those types of people who don’t go out and do a lot of politicking, we don’t see the good work they do.”
She does not buy arguments claiming any lack of diversity on Meyer’s part.
“I have never found that he has not supported diversity as a woman and a minority,” Shekerjian said. “He treats all of us with the same level of respect that we all should be afforded.”
Meyer’s job was saved by a four to three Council vote.