A myriad of new state laws begin on New Year’s Day (FYI: that's tomorrow), and one in particular might have you wondering how it will affect Laguna Beach—or at least your wallet.
This would be Senate Bill 1388, signed by Governor Brown in July. The law allows motorists to park at broken parking meters for the posted time limit without the fear of getting a ticket.
But Laguna Beach city officials contacted by Patch say that the new law doesn’t really apply to our parking meter-saturated town, because the city doesn’t issue tickets to drivers who are parked at busted meters.
"Currently, there is no ordinance in Laguna Beach that prohibits parking at a broken parking meter,” says Jim Beres, a civilian supervisor for the Laguna Beach Police Department. “Under the new state law, in order to issue a parking citation to a vehicle parked at a broken meter, the city would have to adopt an ordinance that prohibits parking at a broken or non-functional meter, and would have to place some kind of notice or sticker on each meter notifying the public of the restriction. As far as I know, we have no plans to do so since it has not been our past practice to issue citations in such circumstances."
Beres admits that people have indeed been ticketed in the past for parking at broken meters. However, Beres says those citations were faulty because the issuing officer was not aware the meter was broken.
"It is not our current policy to cite vehicles parked at broken meters,” Beres continues. “If someone receives a parking citation at a broken meter, and they contact our department to complain or appeal the citation, we ask Public Works to inspect the meter to verify whether it is indeed broken or not. If the meter is or was broken at the time the citation was issued, then we dismiss the citation."
Scott Leetch of the city’s Public Works Department tells Patch that while the city’s coin and credit card meters perform well overall, the repair of faulty meters is an ongoing issue. About 30 broken meter issues are reported each week—more in the tourist-heavy summer months—and around 1,600 each year.
"The repair of broken meters is a regular part of our work activity," Leetch tells Patch. "Most problems include battery replacement, jam issues, component failures and technical failures. Credit card meters have all the same problematic issues as the coin-only operated meters, plus having credit card functionality, wireless communication, touch button pads and a solar-powered battery assist system, altogether resulting in more that can go wrong."