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Receiving a parking citation can be frustrating and expensive, but the situation can be even worse when a citation is issued after a motorist parks at a meter that is marked out of order.
Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District, said he had received complaints from at least a dozen constituents from his district since December that they had been ticketed after parking at meters that were out of order. LaBonge also said he had heard that city employees were giving conflicting advice about whether or not to park at broken meters. Additionally, rumors have been circulating that the city was issuing tickets at broken meters to boost revenues during tough budgetary times. LaBonge proposed a motion in January seeking clarification on the Los Angeles Department of Transportation’s (LADOT) policy on parking at broken meters, and called LADOT representatives before the Los Angeles City Council’s Transportation Committee last week to evaluate the situation.
“My concern is that if anybody feels there is improper activity taking place in the city, that we get to the bottom of it,” LaBonge said. “I had heard about these problems, and any time five people complain, your radar goes up, but when ten or more people complain, you go for it. We got the department of transportation to rethink their process, and explain their policy.”
Bruce Gillman, a spokesperson for the LADOT, said the department’s policy is not to ticket vehicles that are parked at broken meters. He added, however, that parking at broken meters is not recommended.
“We don’t recommend people park at out of order meters because some of the older meters can reset themselves, and even though the meter said it was out of order when the person parked there, when the parking officer comes by 30 minutes later, it says the meter is expired,” Gillman said.
LADOT spokesperson Luz Echavarria added that if people park at an expired meter, they should immediately call the number listed on the meter to report that it is broken. Echavarria said the LADOT documents the date and time when a report is made, giving motorists grounds to challenge a citation if one is issued. “It’s in their best interest to report it, because if you get a ticket, you have the proof,” Echavarria said. “But when you see a failed sign, what we are saying is find another meter.”
Melrose District resident Michael Jacobson said he has parked at broken meters many times, but admitted he didn’t know the city’s policy, and just assumed he wouldn’t be ticketed. He added that there should be more signage or information available to motorists informing them about where and where not to park.
“I haven’t had any problems with them resetting themselves, but I have gotten plenty of tickets when the time runs out,” Jacobson said. “The tickets are expensive and it seems like a scam. There need to be more signs telling people not to park at broken meters.”
Gillman said the city is in the process of replacing old meters with newer models that are not expected to malfunction as much, and do not reset themselves. He said approximately 15 percent of the city’s approximately 40,000 parking meters have been replaced. Plans call for an additional 10,000 meters to be replaced by June 30, Gillman added. More will be replaced once funding is made available by the city.
In addition to working more efficiently, Gillman said the newer meters are more convenient, allowing people to use credit cards. He also said the city is testing centralized parking stations known as “Park & Pay” that have eliminated meters in places like Hollywood Boulevard, Larchmont Boulevard and in the Melrose Shopping District.
Gillman added that the number of parking tickets issued has remained steady during the past three years, with approximately three million citations citywide. The highest number of citations, approximately 25 percent, are for parking in locations where street cleaning restrictions apply. Gillman said there is no data available on the number of broken meters in the city. He added that although the policy is not to ticket people parked at broken meters, motorists could still receive a ticket if there are restrictions such as one-hour parking and they remain for longer periods of time.
“We try to be fair, but the bottom line is, we recommend people do not park at broken meters to save themselves a headache.”
The phone numbers people should call to report a broken meter are (866)561-9742 or (877)215-3958.
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