Henry Powell parked at a broken parking meter in Van Nuys. The coin slot was jammed and he couldn’t insert coins. He assumed that parking enforcement would set him free.
“They could see there were coins there and I didn’t have to get a ticket, but I made a mistake,” he said.
The city replaced Powell with a $63 ticket.
“I’m angry,” he said.
And Powell is not alone.
The I-Team learned that last year the city received 10,000 reports of broken meters. About 3,400 drivers contested the tickets they received, citing a faulty meter. But the city dismissed only 33 of them – less than 1%.
Jay Beeber, with Safer Streets LA. and the National Motorists Associationpoints to a state law that says a broken, or “inoperable,” meter is one that “cannot receive payment in any form.”
That means if the coin slot is jammed, you have to pay with a credit card, and vice versa.
Beeber believes that with the number of broken meters, the city needs to bend the rules – if a source of payment is broken, he said the burden should not be on the driver to have backup payment.
“Your obligation as a service provider is to make sure the service works the way it should work. If not, the person at the other end, the customer, should be given a little break,” he said.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation declined the I-Team’s request for an interview, but in an email it said it repaired 16,000 meters last year.
The I-Team asked the city about its plans to upgrade its metered parking, as Pasadena has done, for example. Drivers there can pay for the meters using an app. But in LA, mobile pay is only available in one-third of the city’s 35,000 meters. The city says mobile pay should be available in all metros by the end of 2024.
Powell said he learned a costly lesson and will avoid broken meters.
“I don’t want this to happen again,” he said.
Parking at a broken meter:
- If one payment method is broken, you must pay with another payment method.
- If both payment methods are broken, you can park at the meter without paying, but only for the time allowed on the signage.
- If you receive a ticket on a broken meter, take photos or video to help dispute it.