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LAist's Solved Mysteries: Broken Parking Meters

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Hitting the ground running, LAist takes time out of our busy schedule solving crimes this week to address yet another unsolved mystery of the Angeleno landscape.

Broken parking meters.

We've all been there. Looking for a spot in a highly congested area and finding ourselves idling next to a particularly ominious open spot. Why hasn't someone parked there? It's obviously not a painted red area. And then we see it. A broken parking meter.

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Either affixed with someone's hand-drawn cocktail napkin warning of "Broken Meter!" or simply flashing a digital warning of "ERR", the broken parking meter scenario is often a tough conundrum for LA drivers. Do we park there? Is it legal? Are we going to get a ticket?

The answer is a resounding yes, yes, and yes.

LAist talked to the City of Los Angeles' Parking Violations Bureau and got the cold hard facts.

Apparently, like most of life, the mystery of the broken parking meter is a Catch-22 in the most perfect sense of the phrase.

According to the LA Parking Violations Bureau office, police officers and/or meter maids out and about looking for parking meter violators never take the time out of their busy jobs to actually investigate broken parking meters. If a meter has run out of time OR is broken, it's going to be flashing a red light for all to see. As far as the local authorities are concerned, if it's flashing red -- you get a ticket.

However, LAist has also been informed by the same bureacratic office that if you were to park in a spot covered by a broken parking meter and actually get a ticket -- you can then fight said parking meter ticket and 99% of the time it will be dismissed. But of course, this involves wasting your valuable time on actually setting an investigation in motion just so a ticket you never should have received can be wiped clean from your record.

Herein lies the Catch 22. A broken meter will not allow you to put money in it, thereby causing you to get a ticket that the Parking Violations office often dismisses after you get said ticket. Parking in a spot with a broken meter is something beyond your control. Even the Bureau says that the city is well aware that there are many broken meters and a limited amount of spaces to park in, and so they happily encourage parkers afflicted by the "wait and debate" disease (that often hits drivers debating if it's really worth parking in front of a broken meter) to just go ahead and park there.

The bottom line is this, people -- it is totally 100% legal to park in front of a broken meter and not put any money in. You just may get a ticket. And you just may have to fight it. And you'll probably win.

Really, it's an insane process in an insane city populated by ticket-givers who should just take five minutes out of their busy day to see if the meter is broken or not.

Mysteries solved. LAist style.