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New law ends broken-parking-meter confusion

Gov. Jerry Brown today signed into law an East Bay legislator’s bill that would make it a bit harder for cities or counties to ticket you for parking at a broken meter.

SB 1388 by state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, lets drivers park for up to the posted time limit in any parking space served by an inoperable parking meter or payment center. Cities and counties can pass ordinances or resolutions to prohibit such parking, but such local laws wouldn’t become effective until those jurisdictions post signs or other markings notifying motorists of the restriction.

Until now, state law didn’t specify whether or not a city or county could cite a vehicle owner for parking at a broken meter; some did, some didn’t. According to a state Senate legislative analysis of DeSaulnier’s bill, a League of California Cities survey found that among cities that did issue such tickets, most would dismiss those tickets unless there’s some sort of pattern of mischief – but a motorist would only discover that if he or she challenged the ticket.

“Motorists should not have to wonder whether it is OK to park in a particular parking space and for how long,” DeSaulnier had said in February when introducing the bill on behalf of California’s American Automobile Association affiliates. “Motorists already think that increased parking enforcement is because of tight municipal budgets. Let’s not make things worse by wrongly ticketing motorists.”

Partisanship? What partisanship? The Assembly passed this bill June 18 on a 79-0 vote, and the state Senate passed it a week later 33-0.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Drivers will now start carrying hammers instead of change.

  • Erik in Kabul

    This is one of those classic “there oughtta be a law” situations. Not surprised that DeSaulnier was the guy who recognized this. Also: I really think this should have been on the “Capricious Commuter” blog.

  • RR, Senile Columnist

    A win for the struggling middle classes. No longer will the greedy, selfish 1% be able to crow “Only little people pay meter fees.”