Los Angeles has opted out of a new state law which allows drivers to park for free in any space with a clearly broken parking meter. Starting in 2013 a new California state law (SB 1388) allows drivers to use any parking space with a broken meter, not pay to park there, and avoid getting a ticket for it.

Los Angeles Department of Transportation heads told the county council that being in compliance with the forthcoming law would cost the community about $5 million a year in lost revenue. There were also concerns that the new law will lead to people intentionally breaking meters so they can park for free. These two issues were more than enough for the council to vote overwhelmingly in favor of opting out.

Parking is at a premium in congested urban areas such as Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. Just finding an open space is considered lucky, and with the new state law going into effect next month, finding an open parking space with a broken meter will seem equal to finding a pot o’ gold at the end of a rainbow.

There are limits to how and when a driver can use a parking space with a broken meter, however. For instance, drivers must verify that the meter is actually broken and no restrictions have been posted on the broken meter by the city parking enforcement unit. Also, regardless of whether the meter is broken or not drivers may not leave their vehicle parked in the space for longer than the posted maximum time limit for occupying the space.

Any community which chooses to opt-out of the new state law will be required to post signs clearly stipulating their municipal parking restrictions. Drivers are encouraged to check the vicinity for such restriction signs once they have determined the meter is indeed broken.