City pulls plug on parking meters after issuing erroneous tickets

The parking meters are still there in downtown Glendale, but for a while, at least, the spaces they guard will be available for free.

The city deactivated its network of electronic parking meters in downtown Thursday after receiving complaints from motorists who said they had been erroneously ticketed.

The meters – located on Brand Boulevard and in select parking lots – were covered and signs were posted informing patrons that they are out of service. Parking at electronically metered spots is free during repairs, which is expected to take between three and five weeks, city spokesperson Tom Lorenz said.

Time limits will be enforced manually with the marking of vehicle tires, he added.

The move came after city officials discovered occasional delays in the wireless communication signal between the electronic meters and hand-held receivers used by parking attendants. Patrons paid to park, but the attendants were not always getting the real-time information, Lorenz said.

The meters will be upgraded and tested before being reactivated for service sometime next month, he said.

The problem was raised by a Glendale resident at the city council meeting Tuesday night. Yolanda Hall said she was thrilled to find a parking spot on Brand Boulevard during a trip to Barnes and Nobles at the Americana late last month. She paid the requisite dollar for one hour of parking at exactly 11:11 a.m. and took her receipt. Hall returned about 45 minutes later to an unpleasant surprise.

“My meter should have expired at 12:11 a.m., but I had a ticket already that was issued at 11:27 a.m., 16 minutes after I parked, which is crazy,” Hall said.

She went to the police station to get the ticket dismissed, and while she was there, another woman came in with an identical grievance.

“Something is wrong,” Hall said. “And I think for people who are coming into the city and want to park on Brand, if they are getting tickets they don’t earn and having to pay, it really does leave a bad flavor in everybody’s mouth.”

Officials said they have received a limited number of complaints, but felt it was a good time to review and update the system. If anyone wants to dispute a ticket, they should contact the city’s parking enforcement supervisor, officials said.

The electronic parking meters debuted in December 2008 to the enthusiasm of downtown business owners, who had long argued in favor of metered parking. Workers were parking their vehicles in prime spots on Brand Boulevard, leaving little room for would-be customers, said Helen McDonagh, owner of Massage Envy and president of the Downtown Glendale Merchants’ Assoc.

“The parking meters have been one of the best things to happen to downtown Glendale,” McDonagh said. “Before they were there, there were cars parking for days on end on Brand Boulevard. The cars weren’t turning over. Customers couldn’t find convenient parking.”

The electronic meters on Brand Boulevard stretch between Colorado and Doran streets. Two-hour parking is available on Brand at a rate of $1 per hour.

City official said they are committed to getting the meters back in working order for the benefit of patrons and business owners.

“It is our goal that we are customer-friendly, and at the same time, meeting the demands of the merchants for their desire for turnover on the spaces,” Lorenz said.

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