The number of people who hold handicap placard holders in Cuyahoga County has more than doubled in the last six years.
"It's not easy at all [to find handicap parking]," said Lisa Marn who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. She travels frequently around Northeast Ohio for her job. "It's very aggravating."
Marn said it's harder to find handicap parking now than ever before.
"90 percent of the time they [the spaces] are full," she added.
In 2015, 40,574 people held placards in Cuyahoga County. That's compared to 2010 when 18,670 people in the county had placards. In Franklin County, which is similar in size and includes the city of Columbus, 31,228 people had placards in 2015. In 2010, 14,081 had placard. That's according to the Ohio Department of Motor Vehicles, which issues the tags.
"It's probably not as easy as it seems [to get a handicap placard]," said Dr. Christine Alexander, a family medicine doctor at MetroHealth Medical Center.
Dr. Alexander attributes the increase to the aging population, the obesity problem and the expansion of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act.
"We're going to see this trend, the baby boomers as they get into their senior years, they're going to be a bigger and bigger piece of our population," she added.
In order to receive a placard, a doctor has to sign off that a patient is in need of one. Each applicant must meet one of seven qualifications. They include the inability to walk 200 feet without stopping for rest, the inability to walk without a brace, crutch or wheelchair or the presence of cardiac and arthritic conditions.
A new placard costs $3.50. They must be renewed after five years. If found abusing placard rules, the fine is at least $250.
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