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LA broken parking meter battle: Assemblyman seeks to block city from issuing citations

Parking meters in the city of Los Angeles on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2013.

January 8, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A bill was introduced in Sacramento on Tuesday that seeks to block the city of Los Angeles from issuing tickets to drivers who park at broken meters.

A new state law that took effect Jan. 1 allows drivers to park at broken meters, but it also allows cities to opt out. The Los Angeles City Council did just that last month by a vote of 12-1, which means motorists can still be fined if parked at a broken meter.

Assembly Bill 61, introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D- Los Angeles), would block the city from enforcing the citations and allow drivers to park for the maximum time allowed.

"The taxpayer pays to install the meter, the taxpayer pays to maintain the meter and it's just outrages to say the taxpayer can't park at a meter if the government hasn't fixed it," Gatto said.

At the time the Los Angeles Department of Transportation argued the new electronic meters rarely break down. Some worried that people could break the meters intentionally.

"People do throw in - I don't know what they throw in - but they throw it in, they tripped it and then they say they park for free," Councilman Tom LaBonge has said.

Councilwoman Jan Perry was the only member of the City Council who voted against the ordinance to fine drivers. She said if the meter is broken, it's not the driver's fault.

"If the point of having a parking meter is to generate revenue, you don't have to take as your first position generating revenue by giving a ticket," she said. "You can generate revenue by having a meter that works."

Gatto also said cities are trying to get extra revenue through the citations.

"They're trying to issue more fines and I just don't think that's right," Gatto said.

Some motorists said parking is bad enough without the added threat of being cited.

"If the meter don't work, they should fix it. Everything is just to squeeze money out of people. That's just what it is. It's just money, money, money."

City News Service contributed to this report.