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Parking at broken meters no longer illegal


LOS ANGELES, Calif. — The Los Angeles City Council voted today to rescind the city’s policy of ticketing vehicles parked next to broken meters.

The council voted 13-0 to rescind the policy and to revisit the decision in six months — to ensure there is no increase in vandalism of meters by people hoping to avoid paying.

The policy will be lifted immediately.

The council also voted to urge the governor to veto a bill that would restrict cities from adopting a policy of ticketing people at inoperable meters in the future. Some council members said they want to maintain “local control” if people begin breaking parking meters again in order to park for free.

The motion’s author, Councilman Mike Bonin, said rescinding the 3-year-old policy will “let people know that the city is on their side.”

In 2010, the Department of Transportation began citing and imposing fines on people who park their cars at inoperable meters. The City Council reaffirmed the policy in 2012.

Since the policy was put in place, the city’s parking meters have been replaced with ones that do not break as easily. The new meters, which take both coins and credit cards, also automatically alert the city whenever it detects a malfunction.

Bonin said technology has made the policy “moot.” People would have to “stand in broad daylight with a sledge hammer” if they want to break the new meters, he said.

The Transportation Committee, which Bonin chairs, approved the motion last week while leaving open the possibility of reviving the policy later if needed.

Committee members also said they opposed the state bill, which was authored by Assemblyman Mike Gatto. If signed by the governor, Gatto’s bill would bar cities from ticketing vehicles at broken meters starting in January.

The Transportation Committee rushed a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown in advance of today’s City Council vote to urge a veto on Gatto’s bill.

The city’s parking meter technicians defended the citation policy last week, saying that before it was adopted, people intentionally jammed parking meters by slipping paper clips into coin slots, or they wrapped meters in plastic bags to make them appear broken.