UNION CITY - For many residents who live in the city, parking can be a hassle, especially if you have a disability. Roberto Alvarez, who has lived in Union City for nearly 40 years, felt until recently that even though he fell under the guidelines for handicapped drivers, his parking woes still hadn't been alleviated. All of that changed last week, as the city put in place the first set of new handicapped parking signs throughout the neighborhood. Alvarez, who suffers from an injury to his right leg and has difficulty walking, felt the signs will help ease the stress of trying to find parking near his home. The city had revised its handicapped parking ordinance on Jan. 4 to ensure that only the person who applies for a handicapped space would be allowed to park there. The move came in response to complaints from disabled residents that other people with handicapped license plates had parked in spaces meant for the resident only. The new signs bear the license plate number of the resident to whom they are designated. "I am delighted that the mayor has done this for us," said Alvarez last week as he watched city workers install a new sign in front of his residence. "It was difficult enough to finding parking in the area when others who had handicapped plates would park in front of my house and I would have to walk almost three or four blocks just to get home. For now, things are looking better." Mayor Rudy Garcia felt the revision of the ordinance would help ease the stress for residents in the area. Open to allto all "In response to the concerns of our residents with handicaps, we are hoping that in adopting this revised ordinance, it would help alleviate the problem they have faced," said the mayor last week. "I feel that the new signs will make a difference to ensure that our own residents who need it will have the advantage of getting a parking space close to their home." Previously, the spaces were marked as handicapped parking only, but were available to any driver with a special license plate or windshield placard. According to Lt. Jack Neaman of the Union City Police Department Traffic Division, the department contacted all 325 residents who had previously applied for handicapped parking privileges to re-register so they could get their new signs. "We are hoping that by having these new signs, it will give residents more access to park in their own neighborhoods," said Neaman last week. "Sometimes it difficult for people who are disabled or elderly to get around, so hopefully it will deter other motorists from parking in their spots, especially if they know they would be subject to fines and towing if they don't." Residents relievedare relieved Rebecca Ann Cortez, who lives on 21st Street, where the signs were put up this week, appreciated the city's efforts. "This will be a tremendous help to residents in the city who need these spaces," said Cortez, who suffers from asthma. "I take care of my aunt who is sickly and sometimes I would drive around for two hours for parking because someone else decided to park in front of my house. I think what the city has done will keep out those people who don't belong in our spaces. It's an excellent response to a problem that needed a solution." Any disabled resident in the city can apply for a spot. For them to be eligible, they must get a handicapped parking designation from the state Department of Motor Vehicles before submitting a request for a space from the city. Residents are also being asked to provide information of their condition from a doctor stating why there is a need. The Board of Commissioners have final say in spaces being allotted in the city. Though it will take some time to get the new signs up throughout the city, residents are still pleased that this is being done. "Our efforts were simply to try to get parking spaces near our home," said. "I'm sure my neighbors will agree that it's a good beginning that will benefit all of us."