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Pay The Machine

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Several years ago, LAist came down from a pleasant hike in Temescal Canyon, only to find our car being towed from the unpaved parking lot at the trailhead. Overseeing this operation was an overweight twelve-year-old boy in a parks-services uniform.

Few things will boil a man's blood faster than the sight of a fat tween in lederhosen messing with his ride. After we finally convinced this Gary Larson character to put down our Volvo, he slapped us with a $40 ticket. The chubby ranger kept referring to something called the "iron ranger," which we deduced was a small, unmarked iron box in the corner of the lot, into which one was apparently supposed to shove an envelope full of money upon arrival. We advised the child to go work on his stroke, in language he's undoubtedly used to hearing by now (but certainly wasn't back then) and after tearing the ticket up in his face, we'll admit to half-heartedly trying to run him over on our way out of the lot. Luckily for us, the City of Los Angeles hadn't seen fit to give the wee beast a sidearm.

We couldn't figure out what the City was thinking then, and we can't figure it out now. About two months ago, the digital parking meters disappeared from the public lot behind the southeast corner of Colorado and Eagle Rock Blvds. In their places were steel circles on the pavement, and painted numbers for each space. Little signs were posted by every third space, reading, "pay the machine." The machine was a bulky contraption in the center of the lot, not unlike an ATM. Very easy to use; you just punched in the number of the parking space and it would tell you how much time you had, take your money, and wish you good day. We quickly figured out that the key to the system was pulling up to the machine first -- before committing to a spot -- and checking different numbers to see which space had the most time already paid on it. (So, we're cheap. So?)

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Two days ago, the machine was wrapped in plastic sheets and duct tape, and the meters, absurdly, had been put back. All of them. How much did the City just waste on taking out these parking meters, paying for this machine, and then scrapping the whole project? And why? Had they caught onto our strategy? Once again, the shadowy world of parking enforcement had defied all logic in its voracious hunger for pocket change. And we can't help feeling that maybe the chubby ranger was there, staked out, watching that machine all the while...