Meter FAIL Should Not Be a Parking FAIL

Today’s LA Times story about Councilman Tom LaBonge’s recent motion to clarify the rules regarding parking at failed meters (i.e., you should not get a ticket for doing exactly that), reminds me of the time I parked outside Amandine at a failed meter.   Luckily, or unluckily, enough, a cranky parking enforcement officer was giving a ticket to the car behind me.  When he was done, I asked him to look at the meter and to note it for the city and, oh, yes, to have it on the record as broken in case I received a ticket from another officer.  Or, as it turned out, from him.  He told me that he could (“barely”) see the “FAIL” flashing, but “if it’s working when I come back, I’m going to have to ticket you.”  When I pointed out the stupidity of such a policy – since he obviously saw that it was not functioning – he shrugged and told me that my tickets would include instructions on how to file an appeal.  Yeah, put the “enforcement” in “enforcement,” that officer did.

The city is supposed to tell you that parking at a failed meter is perfectly legal, and that, in such instances, that little cement spot along the curb is yours gratis.  However, the city seems to keep this meter policy hidden away like a dirty secret – I couldn’t find any municipal code or other authority that states as much.  Perhaps the city’s Parking Violations Bureau should respond to this very Frequently Asked Question out on their website?

Even if you do know the rules, though, there are a number of parking enforcement officers like my Lovely Rita who either don’t know or don’t care, and will ticket you anyway.  Perhaps more commonly, many (excluding my parking enforcement officer) are understandably unaware of the fact that though your meter was defunct when you parked, it somehow found a second life somewhere deep inside its cavernous metal just as they were driving by in their street edition Zambonis.  Theoretically, the best way to beat this type of ticket is to first, park your car at the non-working meter, and then, second, to report the malfunctioning meter (call (877) 215-3958) and/or submit the meter information online via their circa-1998 web form.  For me, that’s not quite enough.  Since my awkward interaction with my Rita, I have tried to remember to take cell phone photographic evidence of the dead meter in case I do get ticketed, on the theory that I’m guilty until proven innocent.  Oh, that is a FAIL on many, many levels.

Photo of a lonely meter courtesy xxjetlab via the Metblogs Flickr pool.

8 Replies to “Meter FAIL Should Not Be a Parking FAIL”

  1. parking enforcement officers are dicks. this is why people will just jam the fail meters full of crap so they can’t fix it or it takes longer to do so. And good luck trying to appeal them. I got one 10 minutes after parking in a 2 hour, no meter zone. Tried fighting it and unbelievably I lost. Everyone in the Parking Violations Bureau can suck it.

  2. Our own Tammara should be tickled to see LaBonge looking into this as she has posted in the past the draconian parking laws, fines and dirtiness behind some of the tickets.

  3. I once parked at a FAIL meter and phoned parking enforcement immediately to ask. Their policy is justified this way: If the meter stays broken while you are parked in front of it, then you can’t get a ticket. But if your luck is really bad and someone just happens to fix the meter while you’re there – technically possible, since every broken meter does need to be fixed eventually – then you can get a ticket. In its own twisted way, it makes sense. But you’ve got a 99% chance of not getting ticketed at a broken meter.

  4. I don’t think I ever park and leave my car at broken meters here or anywhere else, b/c I just don’t like the odds. Forcor writes, “If the meter stays broken while you are parked in front of it, then you can’t get a ticket.” I think what Forcor meant was, “then you’re not supposed to get a ticket.” Unfortunately, as a couple of bloggers here have testified, you can indeed get a ticket at a broken meter.

  5. There are posted signs in marina del rey that say if you park at a broken meter you will be ticketed. I know westwood will give you a ticket as well. I was given one in westwood and was unable to fight it even though there are no posted signs saying you can’t (this made me so angry!). I still park in other areas of town at broken meters with no problem. And on a ticket I got in hollywood there was a way to fight it by email, no problem. Not in westwood!. Is there a way we can find the list of cities that ticket broken meters?

  6. Many of the meters that you see in “FAIL” mode are so because they are full – and they fill up quicker than ever since the City raised the parking rates. As soon as the meters are emptied they go back to normal working mode and you can get a ticket.

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