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City hopes new signs clarify rules at meters

The city of Spokane will replace the signs it attached last month to meters in the new downtown Entertainment Parking District in an attempt clear up confusion over who can park there, and for how long.

The city has mandated special rules for parking in a three-block area around The Fox and Bing Crosby theaters and the Knitting Factory. On those streets, people with disability plates or stickers on their cars can only park for four hours at a time. In all other parts of downtown, cars with disability plates or stickers can park for an unlimited time.

Last month the city put up signs resembling the standard disabled parking signs, featuring a white stick figure in a wheelchair on a blue background, and reading “4 hour limit.” Those signs were attached to meters with varying time limits on them, and in areas not normally reserved for drivers with disabilities, causing confusion among drivers.

City officials said the rules were changed to give the entertainment venues in the district greater ability to block off sections of the street for vehicles unloading musical instruments, stage equipment or audiences.

But the signs, designed by the city Street Department, were confusing to many motorists, said Marlene Feist, city spokeswoman.

The blue-and-white signs were “an automatic ‘don’t park there if you’re not disabled,’ ” Feist said Thursday. “When you put up a sea of them, it said to the average citizen, ‘I can’t park here.’ ”

The city will remove the signs from the meters and post new ones on the corners that say “disabled parking limited to 4 hours” and an icon of a car being towed away.

Feist said the signs will be switched out over the next week.

The old signs will probably be recycled, and the change will cost “a few hundred dollars,” she estimated.