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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Drive up to the VA Medical Center in Dallas and signs point you to parking in all directions.
You might end up winding through packed lots looking for reverse lights though, circling an overflowing parking garage, or heading to a gravel lot to take a shuttle bus.
So when William Johnson and other veterans spied a wide open, partially-paved lot right across from the main entrance on Lancaster Road, they pulled in without a second thought. After all, there wasn’t a single sign saying they couldn’t. That’s why Johnson was taken aback by the $55 ticket stuck under his windshield wipers.
“If they had a sign up, wouldn’t a parked here,” he said.
The North Texas VA said Tuesday it would try to help with the City of Dallas situation that has left Johnson and dozens of other veterans frustrated.
Parking officers are writing tickets for parking on an unapproved surface. Enforcement officers explained it was the same rule that keeps you from parking on your front lawn.
The same city code also faults property owners for letting the violation happen. The owner of the property in this case, is the City of Dallas.
“How you gonna know, you’re not supposed to park there?” asked Johnny Pinchback. He was able to drive out of the lot, before officers made it to his truck.
Manager of parking enforcement for Dallas, Pamè La Ashford told CBS11 the city was trying to show a certain level of tolerance, allowing some parking on the property. However, when the number of cars gets out of hand, and potentially starts damaging some of the unpaved areas, officers had to hand out tickets to cut numbers back.
The VA said it would set up additional signage, in an effort to warn veterans what could happen if they parked off-property. On its own property, the VA is trying to stay lenient with parking violations, recognizing the tight space on the main campus of the nation’s second largest VA system.
The Dallas VA is currently constructing two new parking structures, adding 1,400 spaces. The first is expected to open this summer. Only patients can park at the second.
The VA has had conversations with Dallas about purchasing the vacant lot for future expansion.
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