Councilmember’s Motion Would Rescind Unfair Policy Forbidding Parking at Disabled or Broken Card and Coin Meters

LOS ANGELES – Councilmember Mike Bonin’s proposal to rescind the city’s policy of issuing tickets to cars at broken parking meters was unaminously approved by the Council’s Transportation Committee today, bringing the motion a significant step closer to ending the unfair practice.

“The idea of the city penalizing people for something that is not their fault sends the wrong message about what local government is supposed to do,” said Bonin.  “This is an unfair policy and I am looking forward to it being officially off the books as soon as possible.”

In 2010, as part of a new “Pay to Park Policy” for Card and Coin Meters, the City of Los Angeles made it an offense punishable by fine and citation for motorists to park at inoperable or broken card and coin meters.   The City Council reaffirmed this policy by approving a motion in December of 2012 (CF 12-1764).

“Since the policy was implemented, new meters, equipment and technology have made it unnecessary,” said Bonin.  

The policy was approved in part to discourage vandalism – but the new card and coin meters are far more resilient than their predecessors, and rendering them inoperable requires disabling both the coin and credit card functions.  According to the Department of Transportation, since the new policy took effect on January 13, 2013, only six meters have become inoperable of more than 37,000 across Los Angeles and not a single citation has been issued because a car was parked at an inoperable meter.  Additionally, because the new meters alert Department of Transportation staff immediately when a meter is not working, the six meters were only inoperable for a total of 12.5 meter hours of 67 million meter hours citywide (meaning the city’s meters have functioned 99.99998% of the time).

“No tickets are actually being given, so reversing this unfair policy has virtually no financial impact for the city,” said Bonin.  “This is about showing people that government is on your side, not on your back.”

In addition to sending the wrong message to people throughout the city, local business leaders from the Westside argued that the city’s current policy also concerns small business owners. 

“If customers don’t feel like they can park in front of my business they go to another business district,” said Pat Lyon, the owner and operator of Westchester Watch Works. “If small business loses, the City loses.”

Now that it has been approved by the Transportation Committee, Bonin’s motion is expected to be considered by the full City Council on Wednesday, July 31.