Embittered parking-enforcement officers all over Los Angeles are being outperformed by a steely army of 15,000 one-legged cash cows, KPCC radio reports.
The new solar-powered parking meters accept credit cards in addition to coins, and avoid breaking down by sending an alert back to the station if there's ever a malfunction.
When the city began installing the hi-tech meters last June, the Los Angeles Times reported that officials did "not expect parking collections to jump." However, a quarter million bucks a month far exceeds anything those rusty old coin meters were pulling in -- even though the price to park ($1 to $4) hasn't gone up.
Before, we made excuses for risking a ticket:
No more dimes in my center console. Stupid thing's broken anyway. I'll only be gone a few minutes. (And indeed, most of the time, a 10-minute dash to Starbucks didn't allow for the cop cart to make it back around.)
But there's really no turning down a parking meter that agrees to take your Visa. Especially when it comes with a chilly new warning: Park at a broken meter, and you risk being ticketed.
Some more theories as to the meters' eerie success rate:
1. They secretly charge 20 percent gratuity.
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2. They use their magical UV receptors to turn nickels to gold.
3. They scam foreigners by shape-shifting into ATMs.
4. Their screens are so dim at night that we can't see how much time remains, and thus overcompensate. (OK, that one's real.)
Whatever their strategy, L.A.'s homeless population should really take note. A solar-powered McDonalds cup with a debit slot could earn your average bum a six-figure salary in no time.