Los Angeles: Ticketing rule for parking at broken meters overturned

| August 7, 2013

Los Angeles finally ended its three-year-old ticketing rule for drivers who park at broken meters, thanks to recently installed high-tech parking meters. Although most citizens welcomed the move, some believe this could make matters worse.

A broken parking meter

A broken parking meter. Image by mbeldyk

Until a few days ago, drivers leaving their cars at broken parking meters in the city risked getting a ticket. Officials argued that this policy prevented drivers from breaking meters or wrapping them in bags to avoid parking charges.

Reversal of Los Angeles’ ticketing rule

On July 31st, the city council unanimously agreed to invalidate the existing law, saying the policy is redundant since new, high-tech parking meters have assured equipment’s reliability.

Councilman Mike Bonin, who initiated the motion to stop ticketing at busted meters, called the vote a win for taxpayers and common sense. Assemblyman Mike Gatto says, “‘Local control’ does not provide a right to fleece taxpayers. Taxpayers already pay for street maintenance, meter installation and meter upkeep.” He adds, “Cities should take responsibility and keep parking meters in good working order, not squeeze a double-penalty out of cash-strapped citizens.”

Parking meters in different areas of the city have been falling prey to vandalism regularly. Opponents of the proposal argue that with the change in policy, drivers might now intentionally break city meters in order to avoid having to pay. Council members agreed to revisit their decision after six months, in case vandalism of parking meters picks up. Even if the meter is broken, drivers can park their cars only as long as is posted — not indefinitely.

Los Angeles’ parking meters

The Los Angeles Department of Transportation (LADOT) operates approximately 37,000 on-street metered spaces in 71 parking meter zones. 60 off-street lots and garages house an additional 3,000 spaces.

Since the drive to introduce “smart meters” started in 2010, 38,000 old and broken devices have been replaced in various parts of the city. The city’s DOT website mentions, “The new high-tech Card & Coin Meters accept coins like traditional parking meters, but similar to Park & Pay stations, they also accept credit and debit card payments.”

“The new meters’ LCD screens make it easier to understand parking restrictions.” Moreover, the new meters are programmed to show not only the parking rate, time limit, and operational hours but also address common issues like street cleaning or tow-away/no-stopping periods.

The new meters have an added advantage – in cases of malfunctioning and breakage, they automatically send signals to repair men. Advanced features and durability of the new meters have increased city’s meter operability to 99.9996%. Broken meters are repaired within a few hours, officials say.

Transportation officials have revealed that before the ticketing rule became invalid, tickets issued to cars parked at broken meters brought in about $5 million a year in revenue for the city.

In California, state law deems it illegal to issue tickets on a broken meter, unless the city passes a special ordinance and posts signs. However, the state law also allows cities to override the rule.

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Category: Municipal, Parking

About the Author ()

A creative writer at heart, Lisa currently writes for SmartSign’s blogs and dabbles in content strategies for SEO. She spends the rest of the time lounging in the comforts of her home, surfing the internet for areas of interest, or traveling to unexplored destinations. Having previously studied and worked in the field of journalism and media, Lisa likes calling herself a web journalist. She takes special interest in grassroots and tribal issues, and topics concerning women empowerment. She swears that books are a person’s best travel companion, and that good food can liven up any dull day. Lisa lives in the beautiful city of Jaipur, India.

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