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Bill Could Block Cities From Citing Drivers Who Park at Broken Meters

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Although the state of California says motorists who park at broken meters are not to be ticketed, this new law comes with a crucial exception: Cities can opt-out and enforce the no-parking rule and issue tickets anyhow. Los Angeles recently became one such city, with the Council voting 12-1 in favor of issuing tickets to drivers who leave their car at broken parking meters.

Now, however, Assemblyman Mike Gatto's bill could put the brakes on L.A.'s plan:

The bill, AB 61, would prohibit local governments, such as cities and counties, from enacting an ordinance that bans parking in a space controlled by a broken meter or broken kiosk for on-street parking.

“It’s just wrong for cities to ticket people who want to park at a meter that the city has failed to fix,” said Gatto in his statement on AB 61. “Or to force a motorist to drive around or park in a paid lot when a perfectly good spot on the street is available.”

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In defense of their adoption of the exception to the law, L.A.'s City Council says the meters around town are equipped with a mechanism that signals the transportation department when the meter needs repair, and repairs are said to be handled swiftly.

Gatto counters that defense, however:

“It is the responsibility of local governments to maintain their meters and keep them in good working order,” said Gatto. “The people should not have to pay for the government’s mistakes or inefficiencies, especially when the people already paid to install and maintain the meters in the first place.”

Additionally, one dominant fear shared by city transportation officials was that should L.A. follow the state law, motorists might be more inclined to commit parking meter vandalism.

But Gatto isn't fighting (by proxy) L.A. City Hall alone; in addition to Councilmember Jan Perry, who cast the sole dissenting vote regarding opting out of the state law, Councilmember Dennis Zine, who was absent for the vote, have joined forces to put forth a motion calling for a reversal of the city policy.

Depending on the success of the motion, or the success of AB 61, L.A. motorists may be able to once again park at broken meters without fear of the meter maid.