Monday, September 13, 2010

A matter of civic pride

Typically, our XLA blog recounts our staff members' L.A. experiences, or we'll inform you of upcoming, fun events and things to do in and around Los Angeles. Occasionally, we'll provide information relevant to L.A. that's not necessarily about an event, but might include some useful tips for our fellow Angelenos.

And while we are huge supporters of taking public transit as much as possible, we understand that a car is still necessary in some circumstances in L.A. Which brings me to my latest L.A. experience: the broken parking meter. Recently I was meeting a friend at one of our favorite cafes in Studio City. I parked at a meter only to discover it was flashing the "Failed" warning at me.

I couldn't recall what the rules were for parking at a broken meter. Not wanting to take any chances, I drove around a little more to find another place to park. It took another seven minutes of my time and of course, I was parked farther away than I wanted to be. A situation I'm sure most XLA readers can relate to.

Shortly after this experience, I was contacted by Chris Corso of "Citizens for Civic Pride." It was almost as if the universe was responding to my irritation and frustration. "Citizens..." is a movement that aims to help others caught in a similar parking meter situation to avoid getting a parking ticket, while at the same time, limit the unsightliness of L.A. streets dotted with meters covered in plastic and paper bags, an old t-shirt, or whatever else you might find in your car to cover up the broken meter.

What Corso and "Citizens for Civic Pride" have created is a Broken Meter Notice - a booklet of biodegradable sticky notes that capture three pieces of information: time, date, and meter number. Then, the note is placed on the outside of the passenger window, where it can be seen by a meter attendant. This helps to communicate the information needed to report a broken meter, and keep our city streets from further being littered.

While neither the booklet or "Citizens..." has been officially endorsed yet by city and transportation officials, and there are no guarantees that an attendant will not ticket you, the effort to keep our streets cleaner, and find a better way to communicate and report failed meters to the city is an easy one I can get behind. After all, it would be nice to not have to see a diaper covering up a parking meter. And I would like to think that one day, the parking meter attendant and I can get along and she will know that, "Hey, I'm on your side."

For more information on the Broken Meter Notice booklets, or to get your own booklet, visit The website also contains a lot of good and useful information on parking meter rules and what to do in the event that you encounter a broken meter. There's also a funny photo gallery of some "creative" ways people have used to cover up broken meters.


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