It's Now Legal to Park at Broken Meters in LA

The question of whether you can or cannot park at a broken meter has long plagued LA drivers

Don’t shy away from parking at broken meters, Los Angeles. That’s now a free and clear – emphasis on free – parking space.

The Los Angeles City Council voted 13-0 Wednesday to nix the policy of ticketing vehicles parked at broken meters.

The change takes effect immediately, said David Graham Caso, spokesman for Councilman Mike Bonin, who introduced the motion.

Because all of LA's 38,000 metered spaces are now electronic (the last coin-only meters were replaced in December 2012), they don't stay broken for long.

When an electronic meter breaks, it alerts a computer and calls a technician to fix the machine -- typically in about four hours, according to a spokesman for the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

Just eight electronic meters have failed since Jan. 1, giving coin/card meters a 99.99996 percent operability rate so far this year, according to an LA DOT spokesperson.

If a driver parks at a meter that is fixed soon after, a technician will reset the meter for the full amount of time -- meaning motorists can park without penalty, but still can't stay past the posted time limit, Bruce Gillman, with LA DOT, said.

Wednesday’s decision reversed a city policy that has inspired much confusion among LA drivers, many of whom believe it is unfair to be penalized because the city failed to fix a meter.

Last summer, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that created a general statewide rule letting drivers park at broken meters until the posted time limit expires – without receiving a ticket. That policy, which also lets drivers park in spaces with broken pay stations, went into effect in January.

But the state law only applies if local rules otherwise are not posted.

LA upheld its pay-to-park policy in December and continued ticketing drivers parked at broken meters.

The decision to break from state law was made, in part, because of a fear that not penalizing drivers would inspire Angelenos to jam parking meters in search of a free space.

In six months, the council will revisit the decision, in case vandalism of parking meters picks up.

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