City tickets whole block despite broken meter

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – On Central between Wellesley and Bryn Mawr, parking meter no. 43 reigns supreme.

Avoid paying the fee at your own risk.

“[Thursday] at lunch, our parking enforcement official issued eight citations,” said Mark Motsko, a spokesperson for the city’s Municipal Development Department, which oversees parking.

Those tickets were clumped one right after the other, a ticket for every car on the block (full disclosure, KRQE News 13’s Alex Goldsmith received one of them).

But there’s a problem. None of the drivers could’ve paid because parking meter no. 43 wasn’t taking their money.

“It seems like it’s a CPU, central processing unit, issue,” Motsko said. “It did say ‘Out of Order’ on the digital display. We’re not quite sure whether the officer actually paid attention to the digital display.”

Motsko says the city’s 311 line received calls about the problem pay station as far back as Tuesday.

Because of the circumstances surrounding the meter, the city voided all eight of the tickets in this case.

But Motsko says that wouldn’t happen in every situation where a meter was broken.

Take for example one of the older meters in place for single parking spots. If that’s one out of order, the city says please report it and park somewhere else. If you don’t, you could get a ticket.

For “group meters”, pay stations that cover a whole block, it’s a different story. If those are out of order, the city wants you to call 311 and report it too, but whether you should park there is a judgement call.

“If it would be possible to park close by but not use that pay station we would ask that people do that,” Motsko said. “But we understand during busy times, lunch, etc.  that that’s not possible.”

You may still get a ticket, however Motsko says if you call 311 to report the broken pay station, you could get it voided in the right situation.

“We’ll take it on a case by case basis,” Motsko said.

To fix the problems that can come with having one pay station for a whole block, the city is looking to replace those “group meters” with “smart meters”.

Those smart meters, which cover a single spot, automatically notify city maintenance workers when they’re broken.

“They’ll actually send a text message out to our maintenance group where they can come in and repair them immediately,” Motsko said.

There are already some installed in east downtown. The city plans on adding more to downtown in the fall with more smart meters going into Nob Hill and the UNM area within the next couple years.

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