parking_meters.jpgCity drivers should be pleased to hear that the SF MTA Board of Directors voted to keep the existing rules on broken parking meters. Currently, a broken meter is considered a freebie for the duration of the meter’s maximum time limit. Yesterday, the board voted on a proposal to change the time limit to one hour for all broken meters. In a 3-3 vote, the deadlock means the old rules still apply.

Out of the 26,500 parking meters in the city, there are 300 to 500 broken on an average day. The proposal for a change in law came out of the SFMTA’s concern about vandalism and a significant loss of funds now that the SFPark program is implementing meters with varying, longer time limits.

While an old-school meter’s usual time limit ranges from 30 minutes to two hours, many of the new meters have limits of up to four hours and in some cases no limit at all. If a meter with no time limit is broken, a car could park in that spot for up to 72 hours and at $6 per hour at some of the new meters, that is $432 of free parking.

”Establishing a one-hour maximum time limit for parking at broken/inoperable meters will provide a disincentive to vandalizing meters to be able to park at no cost for long time periods,” The SFMTA Staff wrote in a report to the board. Los Angeles recently banned parking at broken meters due to a rise in tampering.

Since the proposal got some attention in the news earlier this week, there have been some dramatically negative responses from the public, such as this Examiner reader who viewed the proposal as the final straw for government failure.

Fed up drivers can rest easy for now. The tied vote means the current policy stays in effect. However, the broken meter proposal will be revised and voted on again in January.

“While the six of us can’t agree how to do it, I think we all agree that a broken meter shouldn’t mean free parking until you land on Marvin Gardens or something,” said Director Malcolm Heinicke, beating me to the (admittedly cheesy) Monopoly game reference.

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