INVESTIGATES: Some Jacksonville stores block off disabled parking spots to drivers

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Some businesses in Jacksonville are blocking off their own disabled parking spots, forcing certain customers to park farther away.

At stores such as Lowe’s and Home Depot, these spots are being replaced with Christmas tree tents.

NEW VIDEO: JSO releases bodycam video from arrest of NYC murder suspect

Action News found blocking off disabled spots is legal in some cases, yet drivers who use them are still frustrated.

“We had a hard time because so many places are blocked off. So we had to find (another spot), it was farther away for us,” driver Dorothy Scott said.

Dorothy and Robert Scott had to take a few extra turns in the Lowe’s parking lot Friday morning when they saw two spots blocked off. In their place was a Christmas tree tent set up near the front of the store.

“It would be very nice if they put it elsewhere so we could have more options to where we are going to park,” Dorothy Scott said.

“They got all this parking and one handicapped,” Robert Scott said.

The two blocked off spots forced the Scotts and other drivers to find parking farther away.

Lowe’s isn’t the only store to do so. At Home Depot along Regency Boulevard, two disabled spots are blocked off for a Christmas tree tent.

Is this legal? Are businesses allowed to block off these spots in their own parking lots?

Our crime and safety expert Dale Carson weighed in. He has years of experience in law enforcement, including time with the FBI.

“There have to be a certain number of handicapped spots available for the general public,” Carson said.

According to the Americans with Disabilities Act, for every 25 parking spaces a business has, it must have one disabled spot.

(ADA Compliance Brief: Restriping Parking Spaces 2010 Standards)

Carson said a lot of the time, these businesses will build an excess of disabled spots.

We reached out to Lowe’s and Home Depot’s corporate teams about why these specific locations blocked off disabled parking.

STORY: Jacksonville City Council Special Election: Candidates talk top two platforms

A Lowe’s spokesperson said he would look into the situation.

Home Depot said the store blocked off the spots in front of the tent for safety reasons. However, a spokesperson also said the parking lot already exceeds the minimum number of required disabled spots.

She said the specific lot off Regency Boulevard must have 14 handicap spots but it has 18. Therefore, when they block off two of the spots, they are still complying with the American with Disabilities Act.

We requested the plans for the Lowe’s lot from the city, but have not heard back.

Though it may be legal, some drivers and seniors said it sure makes shopping a lot harder.

“It’s just making it harder for seniors to be able to have a handicap,” Dorothy Scott said.

We visited two more Lowe’s locations and another Home Depot to see if other tents blocked handicap spots. The other locations placed their tents on top of regular spots.

Carson said if you find a business lot with blocked off disabled spots, you can report it to the city or simply bring it up to management at the store.