Assemblyman Wants to Make it Possible to Park at Broken Meters

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Thousands of miles of California roads are lined with meters — an enormous source of revenue for cities. And until recently, all Californians could park at the broken ones and not worry about being fined.

In December, the Los Angeles City Council voted to change that policy and fine Angelinos for parking at broken meters. Assemblymember Mike Gatto, (D) Silverlake, has proposed AB 61, which would override the council’s recent decision.

He told FOX40 during a Google+ hangout that he thinks the council’s decision is wrong since taxpayers pay for maintaining streets, parking spots and meters. He said, “if a local government is slow to fix a meter, they shouldn’t be punished again with an exorbitant fine or by having to drive around the block to find a spot.”

Gatto also doesn’t agree with the Los Angeles City Council’s rational to charge for parking at broken meters, which they said would prevent meter vandalism. Gatto said parking meters have been around since 1935 and until recently, people could park there for free.

“The idea that we’re all of a sudden going to have a spate of broken meters just doesn’t make sense to me. For last 80 odd years that’s been the practice,” he said. Gatto doesn’t think there is an issue with people carrying “sledge hammers in their car just in case they encounter a meter they wanted to break,” and says the issue comes down to the city wanting to charge people more money.

Gatto feels the issue is greater than dollars and cents. “If you’re a business owner in one of these streets in Los Angeles, you want to get people parted for their money as soon as possible and the way you do that is you want to get people out of their vehicles and into their stores.”

Even though Gatto is pushing for his bill to pass, he told Sacramento viewer Shannon Johnson there may not be a need to talk about meters one day. Gatto noted that kiosks have been slowly replacing meters, “obviat[ing] any kind of discussion on whether a meter will be broken.” But he says if a kiosk were to go down because of the internet, he still believes parking should be free rather than prohibiting parking entirely on that street.

Kiosks seem far ,pre advanced than meters, but viewer Kempton Lam pointed out how antiquated they are. He said in his city, Calgary, Canada, their phones are linked to their license plates. They pay for parking through their phone and can be tagged electronically for tickets. He said “talking about broken meters is from the last century.” Gatto said that in California, we often believe we’re always cutting edge but “the reality is other nations have rather advanced things.”

Gatto also touched on how important meters were to California’s car oriented culture after Viewer Michael Tucker from Australia asked about the value of meters and the revenue they brings in. Gatto said meters can charge as much as $10 an hour, and the revenue a city makes from fining cars is even greater.

Gatto says it’s a “revenue source that doesn’t require much maintenance, it’s huge for cities.”

Watch the entire Google+ interview with Gatto here.

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