Monday, July 18, 2011
Help Me Howard: No Handicapped Parking
Some condo associations do things that are amazing, like one that needed more guest parking spaces, so they took away the handicapped parking space. No problem they thought, until the people who needed that space called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- If you want to complain about a hang nail, a headache, a hangover, stop and look at Martin Kessler.
Martin Kessler: "I had two strokes and because of that I barely can see and I need help walking."
You probably can't imagine how bad off Marty is. He never thought he would be in this shape either.
Martin Kessler: "I used to be an athlete. I had a business. I was a human being then."
Now Marty relies on his wife Ronni to help him get around, but she has had two knee replacement surgeries and hopes to have a third one this summer. So, they have to be careful.
Ronni Kessler, Facing Knee Replacement Surgery: "I chose this unit because there was handicapped parking right out front."
They had a handicapped space with a ramp right near their front door. Then their condo association gave them a little surprise.
Ronni Kessler: "Late Friday afternoon they sent somebody over with black paint, they painted over the wheelchair insignia on the ground and ripped out the handicapped parking sign."
The handicapped space that gives Marty and Ronni the room and a ramp to get in and out of their car was painted over because, are you ready, the Colonnades Condo Association needed another guest parking space.
Ronni Kessler: "Now as a guest spot somebody is always in it. We never even get a chance to use the ramp access."
Now they have to park in a regular spot. They can't park between cars. Marty can't get out, so they have to find a spot like this. They showed us how difficult it is for them.
Martin Kessler: "It scared the hell out of me."
Ronni Kessler: "He has no balance. He is too heavy for me. I can't push him on the grass."
Ronni can't push the wheelchair through the grass. We did it for them, but they can't expect someone to be there for them every day.
"I would like to see the handicapped spot put back, not only for us, but for anybody that needs it. Either now or in the future."
But the association refused to restore the handicapped parking space. Virtually locking Marty in their condo and leaving Ronni terrified, so she called Help Me Howard.
Well Howard, a condo association needs another guest parking space for their visitors, so can they just wipe out their handicapped space used by their handicapped residents?
Howard Finkelstein: "Federal and state laws require a sufficient number of handicapped parking spaces and a condo cannot remove them without the City's approval. To do so is a violation of the law and Marty's legal rights. So, the condo has to either return the handicapped space or find another way to accommodate the residents."
I called the Colonnades Condo Association to ask them about the handicapped space. They didn't return phone calls or emails. So, I contacted the City of Plantation who sent out an inspector. He determined that the Colonnades did not have permission to remove the space and that the old handicapped space did not meet city codes. The association told Ronni it would cost them $16,000 to replace it.
Then the condo association hired an attorney. Give Paul Milberg credit, he got the association to assign the old handicapped space to Ronni and Marty, made it their personal parking space so Marty can now get out of their car safely. Solved Ronni and Marty's problem and pointed out the association's problem.
Howard Finkelstein: "There are laws to cover almost everything. If you are on a board you need to make sure you know what the laws are and you follow them, because if you don't you could cost all of the homeowners a lot of money in fines and legal fees. Ignorance of the law is what happened in this case."
Simply put, Marty and Ronni are happy to have their space back.
Ronni Kessler: "Well the best thing ever is that Help Me Howard got involved and the condo agreed to give me a designated parking spot, where the old handicapped spot was, and if Help Me Howard did not get involved it might not have happened."
Ronni is happy and Plantation's chief building officials says he is satisfied with the space Ronni and Marty have, and legally since they are taken care of the association does not have to install a new handicapped space. The association made a bad move and it cost all the condo owners money to straighten it out.
Problems left you with no space to maneuver? Want us to accommodate you? Be our guest. We can't paint blue lines, but you won't be left feeling blue.