Parking meter

A technician reassembles a parking meter in Los Angeles that had been jammed with a wire and a gum wrapper by someone trying to beat payment in 2010. A state bill would prevent cities from ticketing drivers who park at broken meters. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times / May 16, 2013)

Legislation introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) that would prevent cities from ticketing motorists who park at broken meters sailed through the state Assembly on Thursday. and his colleagues have agreed with him, passing his legislation in a 71-0 vote.

Assembly Bill 61 passed on a 71-0 vote and now heads to the state Senate, where it will be assigned to a policy committee, Gatto’s office announced Thursday.

In a statement, Gatto said the legislation was meant to ensure that the maximum number of parking spots remain available for drivers.

“Forcing someone to aimlessly drive around in search of a parking spot when there are perfectly good spots available is not good for the driver or for the environment,” he said. “A driver should not be forced to park at an expensive lot when street parking is available.”

The bill would allow drivers to use the space for the same amount of time as if the meter was functioning.

Gatto drafted the bill after the Los Angeles City Council adopted an unpopular ordinance last year allowing drivers who park at broken meters to be ticketed. That move was in response to a state bill permitting parking at broken meters unless a specific ordinance prohibits it.

Gatto’s legislation isn’t expected to have much of an impact in the tri-city area — Burbank doesn’t employ parking meters, and neither Glendale nor Pasadena prohibit parking at a broken or malfunctioning meter, although drivers can’t park longer than the posted time limit. But it would shore up confusion among drivers who go from city to city, each with their own rules.

If it eventually becomes law, Gatto’s bill would also prompt cities to accountable fix broken meters, not, he said, “squeeze a double-penalty out of its citizens.”