Parking Meter Scam in Downtown

The homeless guys who hang around the wholesale toy district downtown have got a crazy parking meter scam going. I’ve been over there a few times in the past week or so in the quest for cubes and have encountered it every time. Basically it’s like this – they figured out how the meters register the coins and fashioned little plastic sticks that they can slide down the coin slot and rack up time – then they jam the slot so you can’t put any change in it. When you park they rush you and explain that if you want to park in that spot you need to give them the change you would have put in the meter and they will then rig it for you so you have time, if you don’t pay them, they won’t use their magic meter sticks and you’ll get a ticket. There’s probably 20 different guys doing this all day on the several blocks north of 3rd and west of Alameda, specifically on Boyd and Wall streets. I got the feeling they’ve been doing this unchallenged for a while because they were telling me the scam before asking how long I was going to be there or if I was a cop (which they did, but after they’d already given me a hour credit).

The karma of this came back and kicked me in the ass an hour later when I got a $45 ticket at 2:58 in Culver City for parking in a “street cleaning – no parking noon – 3PM” zone. Ugh.

11 Replies to “Parking Meter Scam in Downtown”

  1. If a meter won’t take change(ie jammed), does it say ‘fail’? If so, you won’t get a ticket.

  2. No! If the meter says FAIL, you WILL get a ticket! The law says that any meter displaying FAIL is out of service and it is ILLEGAL TO EVEN PARK THERE, leading to a ticket. This was told to me by a traffic court judge. Unless he was full of shit, I’ll go with his interpretation. This is why putting a lame handwritten note on the meter saying “meter broken, please don’t give me a ticket, heh heh!” won’t work either!

  3. Those bastards have been doing that paper clip in the meter trick for years. Drives me batshit. Remember the push from Bratton saying he was going to clean-up skid row and the toy district?

  4. i have encountered this before, and it seemed pretty interesting that they were doing it – the guy even showed me how it was done. never took him up on it though, and generally when i drive into downtown i find it easier to just park at one of the pay lots.

  5. This is why I take the Red Line to get downtown. Parking at the Park + Ride and paying the 3 bucks for the all day pass makes it too easy to get downtown to bother parking.

  6. This may only enrage further, but I used to work down in this area and the guys are also a guard against vandalism. They take a few quarters of your money, that you would have given to the city anyway, spend it on whatever they please, and you park on the street and don’t have your car robbed. Which, I suppose, is extortion as well as stealing. All around, I agree with Hexodus and park in the pay lots when I’m in the area these days. I would add, though, that police intervention does very little good when people view jail as a warm bed and a free meal ticket.

  7. ive successfully contested tickets received from parking at broken meters in la. those didn’t say “FAIL” but just weren’t working.

    im still confused however about parking in “loading only” b/c ive gotten a $$ ticket – is it something about yellow vs white signs?

    From [http://www.mrtraffic.com/laparking.htm]:
    IF YOU PARK AT A BROKEN METER AND GET TICKETED, CALL 1-877-215-3958
    THEY WILL VERIFY THAT THE METER WAS BROKEN AND VOID THE TICKET

  8. From what I understand, in most jurisdictions, even if you can’t feed the meter, since it’s broken, you are still bound by time restrictions. That means if you park and are happy you save the pocket change, make sure you still set your alarm because you’ll need to move your car in an hour or two or whatever the limit may be. (most places, also, can ticket you for meter-feeding, meaning if you run out to a functional meter and re-up your time, and a meter-maid has been by and knows you’re breaking the time limit, and is in a bad mood, you’re still f-ed).

  9. Yeah, they’ve been doing this for years… That is why I always carry beer with me. They like beer. Beer seems to make the world a better place. Even if its warm.

  10. I put quarters in a parking meter July 17 in Covington KY (1 minute across the bridge from Cincinnati) and the meter said “FAIL”. I got a ticket. I went to the police station to contest the ticket and they stated the digital parking meter I described was flashing a message that doesn’t exist and that the meter itself I described doesn’t exist. Later, I took a picture of the meter and then they effectively said oh yes it does exist but then claimed the message “FAIL” does not flash on that machine.

    I called the city maintenance guy and recorded my telephone call and got him on the recording saying it flashed FAIL when there is a malfunction. Then I called the Duncan parking meter manufacturer. I also recorded that telephone call and the man stated it would flash FAIL or a number of other error messages if it was not working properly. Basically, they will not admit it was broken and all the people who regularly park down there are used to paying, contesting it in court and losing, and now they have resigned themselves to just paying it. One local came out while i was taking the digital photos and told me about his troubles contesting broken meter tickets. he was a lawyer. If a lawyer cannot get justice, this is a bad sign.

    This little city has no real court to hear your case. When I contested the ticket, it was what looked like 3 cops in a small stuffy room and me at a conference table. They told me I had no evidence of my claim and the digital parking meter doesn’t exist. There was no judge, no court appointed lawyer, no stenographer, nothing like you’d find at a real court hearing. It was a kangaroo court and I said so. They threatened to arrest me merely for saying it was a kangaroo court if the city denied it has the equipment it gives me a ticket on. I left the place just laughing. I will never visit the Riverside Historic District there again. It’s too bad- I grew up there on Riverside Drive right in front of the Mike Fink restaurant boat.

    I got my hands on the parking meter owner’s manual. I plan to continue this into the ground because the police/city cannot run arround accusing folks of wrong doing and extorting them for fines, and then lieing in court to cover up dishonesty or mistakes. Also, I think in the 3rd article of the Bill of Rights it states how a court shall be operated and it states there shall be impartial witnesses and judge. This judge looked like a cop and the other two guys were cops. How is that impartial? The police cannot police themselves.

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