October 17, 2001
The Honorable John Ensign
United States Senator
400 South Virginia Street
Reno, Nevada 89501
Dear Senator Ensign:
This is in response to your inquiry on behalf of your constituent, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, who asks whether the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) prohibits the University of Nevada at Reno (University) from charging a fee for the use of accessible parking spaces. Please excuse our delay in responding.
Xxxxxxxxx has enclosed a memorandum issued by the University announcing that campus accessible parking permits will need to be displayed, in addition to official accessible placards or license plates issued by the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles, on all vehicles parked in campus accessible parking spaces effective September 10, 2001. The University will charge $2.00 for a daily permit and $37.00 for an annual permit. The University memorandum does not disclose whether the same (or any) fee is charged for the use of nonaccessible parking spaces on campus. xxxxxxxxx's letter, however, raises the possibility that the University imposes a fee for all campus parking.
The Department's regulation implementing title II of the ADA requires public entities to make their programs, including their parking programs, accessible to persons with disabilities. Therefore, if a public entity, such as the University, provides on-campus parking, it must provide an appropriate number of accessible parking spaces for persons with disabilities.
The Department's regulation implementing title II of the ADA prohibits a public entity, such as the University, from imposing surcharge on a person with a disability for any measure that is necessary in order to ensure nondiscriminatory treatment required by the ADA or the regulation. Because accessible parking spaces are required (if nonaccessible parking spaces are provided) in order to comply with the nondiscrimination requirements of the ADA, the University would be prohibited from charging a fee for permits for its accessible parking spaces that is greater than the fee it imposes for nonaccessible on-campus parking.
Because neither your constituent's letter nor the University's memorandum discloses the amount, if any, charged for nonaccessible parking, we cannot determine at this time whether the University's fee for accessible parking violates the ADA. We note, however, that nothing in the ADA requires a covered entity to provide free parking to individuals with disabilities in situations where all other drivers must pay fees.
We hope this information will be helpful to you in responding to your constituent. Please do not hesitate to contact the Department if we can be of assistance in other matters.
Ralph F. Boyd, Jr.
Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division