Broken-meters proposal rejected by SFMTA Board

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The rules for parking at broken meters will stay the same, at least for now.

A proposal to impose a one-hour maximum at all inoperable meters in The City was voted down Tuesday by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s board of directors, although the measure is expected to come back in the future.

There are more than 26,000 parking meters in San Francisco, including 5,500 with two-hour limits. Currently, if a motorist finds a broken meter — on an average day, 300 to 500 are out of service — they are allowed to park for free for as long as the limits of the space.

Aware of motorists bashing up meters in order to park for free, staff with the SFMTA proposed the one-hour maximum as a means to cut down on repair costs. With the agency set to introduce new meters that allow motorists to stay for as long as four hours, some speculated that incidents of vandalism would increase. Los Angeles recently banned parking at broken meters due to a rise in tampering.

However, some members of the SFMTA board expressed concern that the one-hour maximum might confuse motorists, despite staff assurances that an explanatory sign would be visible at every meter, and unfairly punish drivers who frequent neighborhoods with two-hour meters.

Overstaying the time limit at a broken meter is a $65 citation in the downtown corridor and a $55 fine in other parts of The City.

Directors Cameron Beach, Bruce Oka and Jerry Lee voted against the proposal, while Tom Nolan, Cheryl Brinkman and Malcolm Heinicke were in favor of the measure. The 3-3 deadlock assured the proposal’s defeat (one seat on the board is still vacant).

Following its rejection, SFMTA Executive Director Nathaniel Ford said he would work with staff and come back to the board with a revised explanation of the proposal.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

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