Hello: I need to have your help to clarity of the rights to wheelchair bound, handicapped residents of the City of Alexandria, VA to "VAN Accessible" parking or, more specifically, parking spaces next to "hatch line" areas to enable City residents to approach their vehicle, take down and reassemble wheelchairs so that they may enter and exit the vehicle unimpeded. I need to know if my husband has any right under ADA, Fair Housing or City laws that allow him to be assigned a specific parking space next to a "hatch lined" area because he is confined to a wheelchair. We are residents in a large condo complex in the City of Alexandria and, according to a new ruling set forth by the Board of Directors of the Condominium Unit Owners Association subject to City laws for disabled, handicap and VAN Accessible parking vs any Association or real estate rules that may govern the same issue on private property. We bought our condo five years ago--there were two garage spaces included with the originally planned purchase but because my husband could not make use of either space that accompanied the condo, we told the sellers that we wanted only one of the spaces and the second space was sold to another resident. My husband is a paraplegic, paralyzed from mid thorax downward as a result of a spinal cord injury 20 years ago. He resides in a wheelchair. He is 70 years old. Post accident, in order for him to return to work and new form of living, he was taught to drive a car with hand controls and to take down and reassemble his wheelchair to stow in the back seat of a two door vehicle while he was a patient at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington DC. The same skills were taught to individuals who were quadriplegic but had ability of movement and strength of their upper extremities due to the location of their spinal cord damage and did not want to or could not mange driving a van; other patients chose vans for personal reasons. The patients had a choice of the type of personal use vehicle they would learn how to drive. One year ago, our condominium Association Management began allocating exclusive "VAN Accessible" parking spaces to wheelchair bound residents with vans. My husband wrote to the Property Management to request a handicap space next to a "hatch line" area based on equal need: room for him to enter and exit his vehicle with his wheel chair--so that he could perform activities of daily living. His car and his wheelchair are his only means of mobility. Property Management informed him there was no formal process for granting of "reasonable accommodation", and requested he write to the Property Management and the Association Board of Directors to explain the rationale for need of a parking space next to a "hatch lined" area in order to have unobstructed, consistent access to his vehicle, space to take down and reassemble his chair as necessary to drive his car. The space was granted. Now, due to a change in Property Management policy, generated by the Association Board of Directors to provide fair and equal access to handicap parking spaces under Alexandria City laws for reasonable accommodation, my husband was told he had to either surrender his handicap parking space or sign his rights to the garage parking space back to the Association for their disposition and use at their discretion. He was told he could either use the designated space he had been granted or the garage space we "own" but not both. He was told by Property Management that he must park his vehicle in "other handicap spaces" or in the common area parking to assure equal treatment of all handicapped residents under laws. He is unable to use the garage parking space because there is no room for him to enter or exit his vehicle with his wheelchair--the decision was made to surrender the handicap parking space leaving him to search for parking spaces in the common area of parking that were wide enough to accommodate access and wheelchair takedown Handicapped residents with vans who do not "own" a garage space are not affected by the new management initiative; they can remain in the VAN Accessible slot because not having it assigned means that they will have to occupy two parking spaces. Unless there is a parking space next to a water run-off area near our building, which are wider than other parking spaces, he is limited if not prohibited from use of his vehicle without (1) being subject to assistance from Patrol Services to locate the resident whose vehicle is in the space next to his to move their vehicle or (2) have an ambulatory person unlock and back his car out of the parking space so that he may enter and or exit the driver's side door if I am not available to assist him. Do you have any suggestions to guide us through this issue? My husband has the same challenges that any spinal cord injured driver has--the same challenges that van driver's experience. Kind Regards, XXXXX XXXXX Kercher
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