L.A.: broken meter doesn't mean free parking

LOS FELIZ, Calif. The new meters use solar power and can take coins or credit cards. They also wirelessly communicate their status to city workers.

Broken meters litter Los Angeles, which is generally considered fair game for motorists for free parking. But that is changing.

"When you park at a meter, you have to pay," said Dan Mitchell, a senior engineer with the Los Angeles Department of Transportation. "When there is a jam, a card jam or a coin jam, the meters wirelessly alert our technicians so they can come fix them right away. "

Mitchell said the new meters are up and running 99 percent of the time. But even if a driver finds a broken one, they can get a ticket for parking there.

Some people said the new meter policy is another example of how the city is nickel and diming the public.

"We're getting short changed," said Beatriz Flores of Los Feliz. "I know the city needs money and all that and I can appreciate that. But I'd like a little slack as a motorist."

"I'm not a fan of making money on parking in the first place, and I like the old way better," said Ron Tabor, another Los Feliz resident.

The city said that by the time the latest phase of meter installation is complete, a quarter of L.A.'s 40,000 parking meters will be coin and card capable.

So far, about 9,000 new meters have been installed throughout the city, with about 1,000 more down the pipeline.

The city estimates $1.5 million will be raised in extra money each year.

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