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Despite state law, cars parked at broken L.A. meters still ticketed

December 6, 2012 |  4:29 pm

L.A. officials said a state law limiting the practice of issuing tickets to drivers who park at broken meters would cost the city a sizable chunk of ticket and parking fee revenue, and would encourage meter vandalism.

The Los Angeles City Council reaffirmed the city's 2-year-old policy of ticketing cars at flawed meters on a 12-1 vote Wednesday, with Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Jan Perry the lone opponent.

City transportation officials said violations issued at non-working meters generate about $5 million a year in revenue for the city.

The state law requires cities to post notices on meters if they issue tickets when the devices are broken. Sponsors of the legislation said their primary objective was to force cities to alert drivers when they risk getting a ticket.

"It's really fair to the driving public. If the parking meter is broken and if you can't physically pay, then you shouldn't be ticketed," said state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), who sponsored the state law.

Since Los Angeles began switching to meters that take credit cards and coins — and banned parking at broken meters — only about five meters each month have required repairs, said Transportation Department official Dan Mitchell.

Before 2010 — when Los Angeles allowed free parking at broken meters — roughly 10% of the city's parking meters were broken at any time, Mitchell said.

But vandalism problems declined sharply when the city began replacing its roughly 40,000 parking meters with more advanced devices that include red stickers warning that tickets will be issued when meters are broken.

The meters, which are expected to be installed citywide by the end of the year, automatically message transportation employees about operational problems and are typically back in service within three hours, officials said.

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-- Wesley Lowery

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