A Charlottesville City Councilor seeking re-election has been ticketed for illegal parking during a recent council candidate forum.
Satyendra Huja, a long-time city employee and one-term council member parked in a clearly designated handicapped area in front of Burley Middle School during last Wednesday’s political event. An eyewitness video (see below) shows Huja’s black Mercedes C320 (license: WAHGURU) blocking a curb-cutout ramp meant to provide access to the school for disabled persons parked in adjacent marked handicapped spaces. The particular spot Huja occupied was conspicuously marked to prohibit any parking. [story continues below]
When the forum was interrupted by a power outage, witnesses report Huja hurrying from the building to move his then-ticketed vehicle—ostensibly to prevent towing.
Although the designated handicapped area is a marked tow-away zone, a Charlottesville Police Department spokesman cited city code sections, which allow for but “do not mandate” vehicle removal under this circumstance. Huja was ticketed for violation of city code 15-133 but not towed.
In an email statement (copied in-full below), Councilor Huja says he “did not notice” the handicap signs surrounding the area in which he parked and did not knowingly occupy the forbidden space. Contradictorily, he then explains that he did not display a special City Council parking placard on his dashboard “because I don’t believe that allows me to park in handicapped space.” Pictures taken on-scene do show an unidentified photo / name card resting in the lower left-hand section of the councilor’s dashboard, but the origin and purpose of that document is unknown. While Huja has vowed not to repeat the error, his claimed ignorance of committing this infraction leaves his future prevention mechanism meretricious at best.
See Councilor Huja’s ticketed vehicle, a pictorial of the spot where he parked, and the adjacent signage:
July 23, 2011 statement of Councilor Satyendra Huja on his parking infraction:
I did park in the handicapped parking space by mistake. I was in a hurry and did not notice the handicapped sign. I did not have city council placard displayed because I don’t believe that allows me to park in handicapped space.
When someone told me I was parked in a handicapped space I moved the car during the power outage. I did receive a parking ticket which I have paid. I have never parked before in a city handicapped space and I do not plan to do so in the future. I am sorry this happened.
(Header photo of Satyendra Huja courtesy of Charlottesville Tomorrow)