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Parking Meter Broken? In L.A., That's Just Too Bad -- No Free Parking

In a city known for traffic, bad drivers, car theft and parking hassles, there's always been one respite from it all, like a magical open bar in some overpriced club: The broken parking meter, bestowing upon the finder free parking.

Well, no more.

LAist reports on the message seen on next generation parking meters, which accept coins and credit/debit cards.

If the coin reader doesn't work, use a card. If a card doesn't work, use coins. If neither works, find another space. The move is intended to prevent people from vandalizing the meters for a free space (sort of like jumping behind the bar at that overpriced club.)

The new electronic meters notify the city if they're not working, so they shouldn't be inoperative for long, though with budget cuts, who can say how long it will take to fix them.

Of course we should welcome the new parking meters. As UCLA economist Donald Shoup has pointed out, parking meters must have been the only payment systems -- perhaps outside gumball machines -- that had made literally no advances since their first appearance in the 1930s. It's ridiculous that if you don't have coins, which are also anachronistic, you risk getting ticketed. Preventing vandalism of these more expensive machines is important, but will someone who is considering vandalizing a meter for free parking change his mind after reading the warning about a ticket?

And it sure hurts to lose that feeling of elation upon finding a broken meter.


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