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Broken parking meters: Can you park legally?

July 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new bill allowing drivers in California to park at broken meters - unless cities pass local ordinances that make it illegal.

Starting Jan. 1, 2013, drivers in California will be allowed to legally park at broken meters. Cities that restrict parking at broken meters will have to post signs that make it explicitly clear that parking at broken meters isn't allowed.

"That's the most frustrating thing. You drive up to a parking space, you get out of your car, and you find you're at a broken meter. What do you do?" said Steve Finnegan.

Finnegan is the government affairs manager with the Auto Club of Southern California, which supported the new law. Finnegan says it's all about clearing up confusion when it comes to parking and broken meters.

"What happens is, the rules change from city to city, and they're not always posted. This law fixes that problem. People will be able to park at broken meters, and if they're not allowed to do so, there will be a notice there telling them that," Finnegan said.

The city of Los Angeles already has an ordinance prohibiting parking at broken meters. The L.A. Department of Transportation plans to present a new measure to city council before the new state law takes effect.

"Approval of such an ordinance will enable the city to continue to enforce its current practice after December 31, 2012," the department said in a statement. "Ultimately, this is a policy decision for the city council and mayor, and LADOT will enforce the decision of the city's leadership."

The L.A. Department of Transportation said it outlawed parking at broken meters because they don't want drivers to go around breaking meters to park for free.

Municipalities across the state have five months to get their ordinances in place before the new law takes effect.