Photo by Angelsharum, via Wikimedia Commons

In what’s perhaps the most competitive neighborhood for parking in the city, officials plan to reserve 40 on-street spots for handicapped drivers while also requiring them to start feeding the meter.

The change, set to launch Oct. 30, will mark the fourth installment of the city’s Project Space initiative. The Parking Authority of Baltimore City says the program’s core goals include cutting down on car burglaries targeting those coveted handicap tags that let drivers park in the best spots for free, and reducing abuse of the placards by non-handicapped drivers to free up more spaces for those who are actually disabled.

Of course, handicapped drivers take a hit in having to start paying for parking. Non-handicapped drivers may also find their supply of spots even further limited.

In addition to designating 40 on-street handicap spots and installing new meters at each one, crews will also lower 75 meters around the neighborhood to make them American Disabilities Act-compliant. Time limits for all handicap-reserved spots will increase to four hours, so as to allow drivers with disabilities more time to conduct their business and get back.

The city has already implemented Project Space in the Central Business District downtown and in Federal Hill and Fells Point, two other parking-competitive residential neighborhoods.

The results have been promising, officials argue. Peter Little, executive director of the Parking Authority of Baltimore City, said in a statement that disability placard thefts have fallen by 85 percent since the program began in 2014, and the number of open parking spots has increased by 20 percent on some blocks.

“We expect that Mount Vernon will see similar results with the implementation of ProjectSPACE,” Little said.

The changes of phase 4 will cover Mount Vernon’s geographic borders: North to south from Mt. Royal Avenue to Franklin Street, and east to west from Guilford Avenue to Howard Street.

Members of the Mount Vernon Belvedere Association neighborhood group haven’t responded to a messages requesting comment on the changes.

The Parking Authority says Hampden and “the remainder of Baltimore City” are next in line for Project Space in 2018.

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