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ConsumerWatch: Do You Have To Pay At A Broken Meter?

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parking meter

A person puts money inside a parking meter. (Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Under state law, motorists’ are not supposed to get a ticket for parking at a broken meter. But motorcyclists who have parked at a malfunctioning San Francisco meter said they are being ticketed repeatedly.

“I almost got killed for a ticket that I didn’t deserve,” Stephanie Jacobi told KPIX 5 ConsumerWatch. She found the smoking parking ticket wedged underneath her motorcycle’s gas tank.

Adding insult to injury, Jacobi said she had plenty of time left on the meter, even though it said it was expired.

Another motorcyclist shot video of the malfunctioning meter and provided it as evidence when he protested his ticket, only to have his appeal denied.

Two months later, KPIX 5 discovered the meter, still malfunctioning. While the meter itself shows there is enough time left on the spot, a red dot appears, indicating it’s expired.

Jacobi contacted the parking authority, and even left a note. But she and others continue to receive tickets.

According to California state law, it’s illegal for a city to issue tickets on a broken meter, unless the city passes a special ordinance and posts signs. San Francisco has not.

KPIX 5 asked Paul Rose of the SFMTA: “If it’s a broken meter, you’re not allowed to give a ticket. So if they send you video evidence, isn’t that enough proof it’s a broken meter?”

Rose responded, “This information was shared with the meter shop, the enforcement team. And in this case, it looks like it’s operational sometimes and not operational others.”

Rose said they have now determined spiders may be to blame for the malfunctioning meter and others in the area. They are replacing the meters with sealed housing, but won’t commit to dismissing the tickets.

“You have to go through the hearing process to make sure we’re looking at all bases,” Rose said.

It’s a process that may take two or three appeals before your ticket is actually dismissed, for tickets that may violate California law.

A bill in the Assembly could expand the law, making all tickets at broken meters illegal.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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