On the heels of a recent Los Angeles City Council decision to ticket drivers who park at broken meters, Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles) introduced a bill Monday that would block the city from enforcing the fines.
Gatto's bill would enable drivers to park for free at broken meters for the maximum time allowed. Assembly Bill 61 also would block local governments from enacting ordinances that ban on-street parking at broken meters or kiosks.
"It's just wrong for cities to ticket people who want to park at a meter that the city has failed to fix or to force a motorist to drive around or park in a paid lot when a perfectly good spot on the street is available," Gatto said.
The bill aims to close a loophole in a state law that took effect Jan. 1, allowing parking at broken meters. That law kept the door open for municipalities to decide whether to abide by the state law or to issue fines.
The City Council voted 12-1 on Dec. 5 to uphold a two-year policy to ticket cars at broken meters. Following the vote, a Patch poll asking readers if you should be ticketed at a broken meter showed an overwhelming 95 percent voting "no" out of 65 votes.
Los Angeles Department of Transportation Senior Transportation Engineer Dan Mitchell told the council last month that new smart meters in the city are rarely broken and are typically repaired within three to four hours when they do go down.
Letting drivers park at broken meters would provide an incentive for vandalizing meters and would cost the city an estimated $5 million per year in lost revenue, Mitchell said.
But Gatto said "people should not have to pay for the government's mistakes or inefficiencies, especially when the people already paid to install and maintain the meters in the first place."
City Councilwoman Jan Perry also introduced a motion last month to reverse the city's decision to ticket drivers at broken meters. The policy "flies in the face of common sense," said Perry, who is running for mayor. "It is our responsibility to do our best to maintain meters. It is unfair and impractical to force drivers to look for a new parking spot just because a meter is inoperable."
Perry's motion also asks the city controller to audit the reliability of the city's new parking meter technology and the Department of Transportation's parking meter maintenance program.