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State law not likely to help L.A. drivers who park at broken meters

Parking meters
In a victory for some California drivers who discover too late that they’ve parked in a space with a broken meter, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law this week allowing motorists to do just that.

The new law, which goes into effect Jan. 1, lets drivers park at broken meters for the posted time limit without the threat of a ticket unless -– as in much of Los Angeles –- there are other posted restrictions.

“It is a simple measure to make sure the rules are clear and drivers have notice of what they are before they get a parking ticket,” said Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord).

While Los Angeles’  Department of Transportation once allowed drivers to park at all broken meters without getting a ticket, that policy largely ended in 2010 when the city began installing high-tech meters that accept both credit cards and coins.

The new state law “requires local authorities to post parking rules if parking at broken meters is restricted in any way,” according to the American Automobile Assn., which sponsored the bill.

And indeed, the new L.A. meters may meet that requirement because they generally carry a red sticker warning motorists that they need to pay whether the meter works or not -- meaning if the meter is broken they need to park somewhere else. However, for drivers who find themselves parking in spots with old, coin-only meters, tickets will not be issued if the device is broken, city transportation officials said.

Of the city’s 39,739 parking meters, more than 80% are the newer card and coin meters. Only 3,930 are the older meters that only accept coins.

“We will continue our current practice.... The purpose of prohibiting parking at broker meters is to remove the incentive to tamper with or vandalize parking meters,” according to an official statement from the Transportation Department.

“LADOT intends to present for consideration by the City Council and mayor a proposed ordinance or a resolution codifying the city’s current practice of prohibiting parking at broken parking meters,” officials said. “As permitted by SB 1388, approval of such an ordinance will enable the city to continue to enforce its current practice after December 31, 2012.”

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-- Ari Bloomekatz

Photo: Los Angeles is installing new parking meters that accept coins and credit cards. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times

 
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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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