Veterans wounded in combat who received a Purple Heart will get some preferential parking spaces in City of Temecula-owned parking areas.
During the regularly scheduled Temecula City Council meeting Tuesday night, council members voted 3-0 to approve designating some parking spaces in the city for wounded warriors.
Council members Jeff Comerchero and Ron Roberts were absent Tuesday.
While an exact number of spaces was not discussed, according to city documents planners will examine signing up to 30 select parking spaces for Purple Heart recipients. The Purple Heart spaces would be signed at a cost to the city of $180 per sign, or approximately $5,400 for all 30 spots, according to Greg Butler, director of public works for Temecula.
California Vehicle Code 5101.8 allows Purple Heart recipients to apply for special license plates inscribed with the special military insignia. When an applicant for the Purple Heart license plate qualifies as a disabled veteran, he or she can also apply for a placard that allows for special parking privileges, according to the state vehicle code.
However, the city’s plan does not call for legal enforcement, Butler said. Instead, the spaces would be filled on the honor system.
Retired U.S. Marine Cpl. Juan Dominguez of Temecula brought forth the idea of special spaces to Councilman Chuck Washington. In 2010, Dominguez stepped on an IED while serving in Afghanistan and lost his legs and right arm. He was present at Tuesday night’s meeting and said wounded veterans often need wider parking spaces to accommodate special lifts installed on their vehicles.
“My fellow brothers deserve something wide enough,” Dominguez said.
Butler said the width of Purple Heart parking spaces will be examined.
Mayor Mike Naggar expressed concern that the city needs to not only provide wounded warrior spaces, but also deal with the existing problem of limited parking for disabled people.
“How do we reconcile that?” Naggar asked Butler.
The proposed Purple Heart parking program would not impact existing marked disabled parking stalls, Butler promised, but he explained it may come down to reducing the number of spaces for ambulatory motorists. The discussion prompted council members to look to staff for future suggestions on improved city transit to and from public parking structures in the city.
Mayor Pro Tem Maryann Edwards said she also wanted to encourage Temecula property owners to consider making Purple Heart parking spaces available.
“I think it’s great for everyone,” she said with tears, adding that the Purple Heart veterans who utilize the yet-to-be constructed spots will likely be seeing notes on their windshields that read, “Thank you for your service.”