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Space invaders: Bill to stop tickets at broken parking meters pulls ahead in state assembly

Corey Moore/KPCC

Put that in your space and park it.

On Thursday the California State Assembly overwhelmingly approved assemblyman Mike Gatto's bill  to stop local governments from ticketing motorists who are parked at broken parking meters.  The bill passed with a vote of 71-0. 

According to Gatto's news release, "The bill, AB 61, seeks to stop the trend of cities passing laws allowing for ticketing at malfunctioning meters, even when the city itself has failed to fix the machine. "

Gatto, who represents areas of Burbank, Glendale, La Cañada Flintridge, Los Feliz, Silver Lake, Atwater Village, Hollywood Hills and East Hollywood, says, "We pay for street maintenance, meter installation, and meter upkeep...It is the responsibility of local governments to keep parking meters in good working order, not to squeeze a double-penalty out of its citizens."

Under the new measure, drivers would be allowed to park in a space with a broken meter for the amount of time they would have been allowed if the meter was functioning properly. That was the law in California from 1935 to 2012. 

What happened in 2012?

Los Angeles City Council passed an ordinance allowing drivers who park at broken meters to be ticketed.

Why does Gatto say that's not good?

“Forcing someone to aimlessly drive around in search of a parking spot when there are perfectly good spots available is not good for the driver or for the environment...A driver should not be forced to park at an expensive lot when street parking is available.”

Previously, on parking tickets

A NBC4 investigation found that more than 17,000 parking tickets had been issued, in a single year, for meters that had been reported as malfunctioning to the City of Los Angeles.  The overwhelming majority of these meters had internal malfunctions and were not intentionally broken.  This is expected to remain the case as cities transition from traditional meters to electronic ATM-like parking kiosks, which are more durable, but are also subject to the whim of Internet connections and complex electronics.

Next episode: The CA State Senate!

AB 61 now heads to the California State Senate, where it will be assigned to a policy committee.