The days of getting free parking at broken meters in Los Angeles are numbered.
The city has begun installing new solar-powered meters that are much less likely to malfunction and that accept credit cards and coins.
The Los Angeles Department of Transportation has replaced about half of the 40,000 meters across the city with the new models, making it easier for motorists to pay and harder for vandals to tamper.
Until all the meters are replaced, drivers who find a spot at an old, broken meter will not get a ticket, said Sean Anderson, a spokesman for the Transportation Department.
But drivers who park at a new meter that happens to be broken will be ticketed.
The new meters cost the city about $20 each a year to lease. They use wireless technology to communicate service problems and jams, allowing technicians to be dispatched to the field quickly.
City officials say they eventually hope to replace all the old meters, helping both the city and customers save money.
"It is less expensive to pay for parking than to get a ticket," Anderson said. "This makes it easier for you to pay, so you don't get a ticket."
-- Ching-Ching Ni
Photo: Parking meter technician Gerardo Salazar pulls a wad of paper out of the coin slot in a meter on Santee Street in downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 4. Credit: Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times