A bill introduced by Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake) to prevent cities from ticketing drivers who park at broken or malfunctioning meters is moving full throttle ahead, passing in the state Senate by a 36-1 vote this week, and it's now headed to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk.

Under AB 61, drivers can park in a space with a broken meter for the maximum time allowed for that space.

Gatto's bill came after the Legislature passed a bill last year that allowed parking at a broken meter statewide, unless a city passes an ordinance specifically prohibiting it — which the city of Los Angeles did in December.

Gatto said the biggest resistance to his bill came from owners of private parking lots, who enjoyed the extra business when a broken meter forced a driver to pay for parking in a lot instead of on the street.

"You file this under, 'The gall of these people,'" said Gatto, whose district includes Burbank and Glendale. "They actually came to the hearings and testified against the bill."

Burbank doesn't have parking meters and Glendale doesn't prohibit parking at a broken or malfunctioning meter, although Glendale does ticket drivers who park longer than the posted time limit at a broken or malfunctioning meter.

In Los Angeles, however, tickets are frequently issued for parking at broken meters, to the point that newly elected City Councilman Mike Bonin has proposed scrapping the ordinance, which would become a moot point if Gatto's bill is signed into law.

When Los Angeles passed its ordinance prohibiting parking at a broken or malfunctioning meter, city officials said the ordinance brought in roughly $5 million a year via citations. However, Gatto said that number, even if accurate, isn't a justification.

"There's a lack of real data, and you could argue it both ways," he said. ""If they want the revenue from that meter… fix that meter, get the meter working."

Gatto, who this year also introduced a bill to allow single-occupancy vehicles to use carpool lanes during off-peak hours, said he plans to continue to focus on transportation issues.

"The issue of transportation is an issue that really, I think is a sleeping giant," he said. "It really is an omnipresent nuisance that is on the mind of every Southern Californian."

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