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Motorists claim L.A. handing out tickets at broken parking meters. Has it happened to you?

Parking meters Talk back L.A.

Between 10% and 12% of the parking meters in Los Angeles fail at any given time, according to a recent study.

Officials aren't supposed to give parking tickets to motorists parked at broken meters, but some residents complain the city is doing just that.

Amir Sedadi, assistant general manager of the Transportation Department, assured city council members "the policy of the Department of Transportation is not to issue any citations to broken meters." But in some instances, Sedadi said, broken meters can inexplicably snap back into operation, which could be why some Angelenos have been ticketed.

But The Times' Maeve Reston reports that some are demanding more action. "There's a lot of short fuses in the world, people are out of work and out of jobs. . . . I want to have a friendly, efficient" Transportation Department, said Councilman Tom LaBonge. "If someone says 'I got a ticket,' henceforth, 'from a failed meter,' we want to know about that, because we don't do that." 

What do you think the city is doing? Have you gotten a ticket at a broken meter? Share your experiences and thoughts below.

Photo credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (79)

I got a parking ticket in Santa Monica after I filled the meter past 6. I am Still fighting it.

We had just parked near Pink's and had been in line for about 10 minutes; the meter was not functioning. An enforcement officer stopped to check the meters. I ran up to inform her about the meter and ask what the policy was. She stated that if the meter was not functioning that we could park there for the posted maximum time.

Perhaps it is time to pass an initiative restricting what is charged and the fines
that can levied against those who violate them. Parking fees and tickets are
not supposed to used for revenue. Neither are traffic violations. That said,
we all know that in fact it is done all the time. I bet such an initiative would
pass with flying colors with only the union thugs and politicos trying to
preserve it.

Police agencies should NEVER have a financial incentive to give a ticket.
It builds distrust and disharmony between them and the public.

If you have a moving violation it should be points on your record, with perhaps a small amount to cover the real costs of dealing with YOUR

No automated cameras unless it is full video so that the entire set of
circumstances can be viewed to judge if its REALLY a violation.
And even then, it should be for flagrant abuses only.

No private parties should be allowed to profit either.

Yes, they absolutely give tickets to cars parked at broken meters. I got a ticket like this last year, and I'm not surprised that no one in the comments so far has reported fighting a "broken meter" ticket and winning.

The next time(s) I had to park at a broken meter, I called 311 and reported the meter broken. The woman told me to look for other spaces with working meters (already did that) and then definitely told me "you can still get a ticket for parking at a broken meter." Especially if they come by and fix it while you're parked there--they will still give you a ticket right away in that case--that is literally what she told me, even though I was the one calling to report it as broken! Talk about 'no good deed goes unpunished.'

Now I always call to report the meter AND take cell phone pix of my car and the meter, with time stamps, in case I need to use them as evidence in an appeal. But I still don't think I would win. I've never won a contested parking ticket in my life. LA is corrupt and broke. The parking enforcers can do whatever they want to you and you're screwed; you'll never get a ticket reversed, and trying to will just wind up doubling the original cost. Corrupt.

Kudos to Tom LaBonge for saying the right stuff, but I'll bet him the cost of my next parking ticket that he won't be able to change anything. No one will lose their job, or even be disciplined, for this corrupt practice. I guarantee it. Just thinking about this reminds me of all the other things that are broken about this city. So sad.

LA DOT tickets at broken meters every on Glendale Blvd. in Atwater Village!

The location is Robertson and Wilshire blvd. Meter looked like it was working. The parking max time is for one hr. The cost is $.25 for each 15 minutes. I parked at 8:00am for a Dr’s. appointment. I insert 5 quarters on the meter and notice that it gave me one hr. At 8:35am I received my ticket at meter 100, the time had expired. I called the 800 number on the back of the ticket to report that the meter was broken and to dispute the ticket. I was told to email the dispute with the ticket #. 30 days later I got a response stating that the meter was working and that the fine was $50. I wanted to fight it but after doing the calculation of how much it will cost me to dispute the ticket, I decided that it was cheaper to pay the fine. The City of Beverly Hills is over the law. .

This actually happened to me last year. The meters all read fail on one entire block. An hour after my meeting I come out and there is a ticket on my windshield. Out of the 16 or 17 meters on that block that weren't working at the time I went into my meeting about 5 were working when I came back, one of which was the one I was parked at. I had even called the City to report the failed meters. I took pictures of the meters where it read fail, along with the the numbers of the identificationnumbers and I contested the ticket and sent the pictures in and they found in favor of me. But just the hassle of having to go to each of the meters and photograph the fail message, photographing the numbers and then drafting my appeal was all just frustrating and a waste of my valuable time.

I've had tickets for legally parking in my own driveway – twice. One of them I spent hours out of my life protesting through the proper channels, which means going to Van Nuys and letting some horrid old crone ask you all sorts of questions of which she will take no later account whatsoever.

Clearly there is an incentive system in place with the City to write up as many tickets as possible, leaving as few ways as possible to rectify in the event that they make mistakes, which for this City is a way of life. I was too pissed off the second time to bother anymore.

But then I realized, there's silver lining in all this: every dollar you get gouged for goes into a special fund to scour the entire planet looking for the stupidest people on Earth, ship them to Los Angeles and give them jobs with the City, in the Traffic Enforcement Department.

You wouldn't want this to end, would you?

You can tell Councilman Tom LaBonge that he's delusional. My girlfriend parked her car in front of a store and noticed that it read "fail." She ran in and immediately came out when she saw the meter reader approaching the car. Before she got there, the meter reader struck the meter and it started working. She asked him what he did because it was not working which he obviously saw. He stated "well its working now" and proceeded to write the ticket. She was so shocked at his answer and asked him how he could sleep at night. Apparently, quite well.

About two years ago I received a broken meter ticket in front of LACC. I was actually walking towards my car as the ticket was being issued. I confronted the meter maid and told him that the meter clearly said "FAIL." He then responded, "Too bad! I got a quota to fill and the Lakers play tonight." Frustrated and angry I immediately went to the Parking Office next to LaFayette park and explained what had happened. I asked to speak with a manager but "no one was there." I was told to fill out a form and go home. On the form I specifically said, "Please have manager or supervisor call me to discuss the incident." I never once received a call. I went back to the office days later to get the same response. I refused to pay the ticket but when registration came around I was forced. This was a complete waste of my time and money. The whole system is a joke of overpriced tickets with overzealous parking enforcement officers. I do not and will never trust the LA parking enforcement and encourage you to do the same!!!

Hey, LAT, how about posting a reporter near a broken meter on a busy street and count how many times the meter maid issues a ticket? That would be something fun to present to Amir Sedadi.

The problem is, the city of LA is trying to make inflated parking revenue without making any investments. Those outdated devices have paid themselves off ten-fold. They should be updated so that at the very least we trust the device.. The system,, That is another story. Case and point, update device that pays for itself. Violators should not question its accuracy.. I fought the system and won!

Repeal Proposition 13.

I received a ticket for parking at a broken meter in downtown LA (in the Little Tokyo area). I remember all the parking meters were dead on that street where many cars were parking. When I came out to get my car 30 mins later, I got a citation. I wrote a letter to appeal to whatever it's called the Administrative Review panel. The City said they did an "investigation" that on that day all the parking meters were functioning properly in that area and ultimately rejected my appeal. I was so disappointed, not because of the $30 or $50 penalty I got to pay, but because I was once told by a police officer (outside the USC campus) that they will NEVER give tickets to people who park at a dead meter. Well, I would not park at a broken meter given the fact that the City by all means is trying to bring in as much revenue as possible these days.

If you get a ticket at a broken meter, take a photo of the broken meter. Make sure it's a close-up, and in focus. Then write the meter number on the ticket.

You've got a camera phone - use it.

Then take that to court when you fight the ticket.

Stop getting mad - just get even.

You'll live longer.

To the author of this post, would you please add a followup to this post with the exact rule regarding parking at a failed meter. My father is a police officer and he always told me that you are allowed to park at a failed meter for the specified amount of time the meter allows for. So if the meter is a 1 hr meter, you get an hour free. If you are there more than an hour and let's say a DOT employee has marked your tires, you will get a ticket.

If you receive or have received a ticket while parked at a broken meter, call you City Councilman. The City Council has recently taken interest in this and are in a position to overturn your citation.
You should not have received a ticket and there is recourse available to you.

I park at broken meters all over town - primarily Santa Monica and downtown (esp the arts district, Little Tokyo, and Chinatown, but also the fabric district).

I have never gotten a ticket at a broken meter (knock wood.)

Most years, I make a new year's resolution to avoid tickets of any kind. Last year I got one ticket - having missed the details on a particular posted parking sign.

I don't frequent West Hollywood very much at all, since street parking there is a nightmare, and the lots are so expensive.

I notice people here complain that they got ticketed in WHwd - Maybe WHwd has a rogue meter ticketing policy?

If officers are ticketing where they shouldn't - then they need to stop. I was under the assumption that spaces with broken meters were still available, subject to time limits posted on meters.

It would be great to get all this clarified.

And do keep a camera with you for this sort of problem!

I have received several tickets at broken meters in Westwood. Parking in Westwood is really difficult and most times there are multiple broken meters. Where the eff are you supposed to park? I like to carry a supply of plastic bags from the grocery store to put over the broken meter if I park there. One time a meter monster snuck up behind me while I was bagging the meter and screamed at the top of her wretched lungs telling me not to put the bag on the meter. I still bag the meters when they're broken. I make sure to tie multiple knots so they are really difficult for the meter monsters to remove. Revenge.

yeah i got a ticket at a broken meter at 8500 sunset. it was a monday night at 10:30pm the sign said 4 hour parking from 10pm to 2am. i put in 4 dollars worth of quarters so i should have been good til atleast 2 am. when i got back to my car at 130am i had a ticket on my car issued at 1245am saying failing to pay the meter. when i checked there was 0:00 on the meter. what the hell?

I recently parked at a broken meter in Westwood. I was hesitant to stay in the spot, but across the street I saw a Parking Enforcer who told me that you CAN park in broken metered spots for free. It was a 2 hour limited parking, so he said we can stay there for 2 hours and if the people come to fix it within that time, they HAVE to put the maximum credit onto the meter (2 hours worth), so we wouldn't get a ticket.

Last Monday my husband and I parked at a meter downtown. After putting ALL of our change in the meter, it read FAIL. Luckily, a patrolman on a bicycle came by and he told us that we wouldn't get ticketed on a FAIL meter. When we returned from our appointment, the meter had reset to EXPIRED, and we had a ticket.

Yes! Yes!
Several times. In fact, it is a daily occurrance along Tujunga Ave in Studio City. Cannot tell you the amount of times I've put in a quarter, two quarters, three... only to have it start flashing "Fail." Then come out 20 minutes later to see it's reset.

Nice to hear, at least ostensibly, it is not the city's sneaky policy to screw us over in such a shifty, sneaky way. That had been my assumption. And, unless something is done about it, it will be my assumption. Definitely bad PR.

Russ Woody

I have not received a ticket at a broken meter before, however, there is a phone number you can call when you park in a stall that has a broken meter. 877-215-3958. I guess its LADOT's hotline for informing the dept of broken meters. Should you get a ticket while parked in said stall, you can use the phone call as defense when challenging your ticket. They usually tell you that you still may get a ticket, however, calling in the broken meter, can act as evidence that indeed the meter was broken. hope that makes sense...

I love the lies, idiocy, and paranoia of the commenters here.

"Here's another trick I saw: Meter person saw a car parked at a broken meter, opened the meter or did something to it so it started working again, and slapped a ticket on the car. Can they do that?"

I bet you did.....maintenance and enforcement are completely separate entities within the department. Enforcement officers have neither the tools nor training to work on meters. Do you lie to your mom?

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