UTEP officials respond to employees parking in handicap spaces

Photo taken November 21, UTEP owned vehicles parked in handicap spaces on campus in the Psychology parking lot. (Credit: Raul Valdez)

Parking at UTEP is a concern for many students, especially for a specific group of students with physical limitations.

CBS4 Problem Solvers spoke with Raul Valdez, a UTEP student who has a disability.

Valdez says he's received his parking permit, along with his handicap placard, and can rightly park in handicap parking.

However, Valdez said he found UTEP marked vehicles in handicap-designated spaces when he was looking for parking on campus during the school week.

He reached out to UTEP to ask why the university vehicles were taking these spaces.

“I called (UTEP) police and they said I had to call the parking division, and parking said, 'Well, it’s because they need somewhere to park,'" Valdez said.

Valdez says parking on the UTEP campus is hard enough already.

“A lot of times, when you get there to class, the spaces are taken by UTEP vehicles, leaving no parking for handicap vehicles," he said.

CBS4 reached out to UTEP about the problem.

The University of Texas at El Paso takes campus accessibility seriously and works to ensure anyone with a disability receives adequate accommodations.ADA permit holders may use their permit to park in parking spaces specifically designated ADA, which are located throughout campus and in any Orange, Blue, Green, or Silver zone. If an ADA designated space is not available, students with accessibility needs may park in any available space that is not a reserved space. If unable to locate a space in the area, they can proceed to the nearest information kiosk and a parking representative will assist them with an alternate location. Two kiosks are located on University Avenue, one on either side of campus public entrances. In addition, Disabled Veterans, Congressional Medal of Honor Recipients, Former Prisoners of War, Pearl Harbor Survivors, and Purple Heart Recipients whose vehicles display the special license plates issued by the State of Texas or applicable state of issuance, are exempt from payment of the fees paid at short-term metered parking upon proper registration with the Parking and Transportation Services Office for any University parking permit for which they are otherwise eligible, in accordance with State law. This privilege applies to the veteran only and not to anyone else driving the vehicle. University employees driving marked vehicles must adhere to regulations for designated ADA parking spaces and may park in ADA spots if they have an ADA permit; otherwise they cannot park there. We welcome student input and feedback. Students with ADA questions or concerns can contact the Center for Accommodations and Support Services at 915.747.5148 voice/TTY, by email at cass@utep.edu, or www.sa.utep.edu/cass. The office is located in room 106 UTEP Union Building East.

According to Valdez, parking somewhere else and having to move uphill can take a toll on him.

"Those of us with disabilities take advantage of it because it is a very hilly campus," Valdez said.

If students can't find a space, they can ask to speak with a parking representative at an information kiosk.

Those kiosks are located at the entrance on Sun Bowl drive and W. University Ave.

Valdez, a disabled military veteran, sent us photos and video of employee vehicles parked in handicap spaces on the campus taken on different days this month.

If you have a problem that you would like CBS4 to look into, call 915-833-4411.

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