L.A. City Gets New Parking Meters, Still Fiscally Under Water

The Los Angeles County city of Valencia may be "Awesometown," but L.A. proper is really the capital of getting things done. The can-do leadership at L.A. City Hall took several years to get a medical marijuana ordinance on the books, still hasn't really addressed L.A.'s looming, $485 million deficit, and forget about getting potholes fixed.

But never fear, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is here. Crime and homicides are up in some areas, libraries are closed on Sundays, and on some days your local fire engine company is out of commission as a result of budget cutbacks. But the mayor and the City Council have their priorities straight: 10,000 credit-card-accepting parking meters are being installed in the city. Yay! Our woes are over.

Oh, and did we tell you? They're solar-powered. Wee. Gosh, these shiny new toys have taken our minds off the fact that former Mayor Richard Riordan just Wednesday predicted bankruptcy for the city.

"Broken meters frustrate drivers and cost the City too much lost revenue," Villaraigosa said in his Wednesday announcement. "Instead of carrying a bagful of quarters to feed the meter, drivers will now be able to pay quickly and conveniently with a credit card."

Wow. I was worried about the few-grand worth of damage to our tires and wheels caused by L.A.'s intractable potholes recently -- craters that the mayor has acknowledged won't be fixed anytime soon as a result of the city's budget woes -- but knowing that we won't have to lug bags full of quarters around had really taken away the pain. (Mayor Villaraigosa, you can be our hero baby).

Okay, we'll give Mayor V. this: Once they're fully installed -- and the mayor ain't saying when that is -- the meters will generate more than $1 million a year in extra revenue for the city.

The more "vandal-proof" meters will also be able to call in themselves for repair should they malfunction. We hear the city is working on even more high-tech meters that pick you up and shake you upside down, sucking any bills and loose change from your pockets. The city has already perfected technology that allows it to send a bill directly to your home for electricity, raising rates without much public input.

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