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Bill would require inspection of parking meters on state schedule

Xavier Newell, a parking meter specialist for the City of Phoenix, inspects a meter downtown. (Photo by Jessica Boehm/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX -- Saying he's tired of dealing with faulty parking meters and hearing the same concern from constituents, a Phoenix lawmaker wants to require cities to test and repair their meters on a schedule set by state law.

"This bill is aimed at doing one thing, and that is trying to protect the residents and the businesses in downtown Phoenix from losing their money to parking meters and making sure the meters are working correctly," said Rep. Chad Campbell, D-Phoenix, House minority leader.

Campbell authored HB 2086, which would require testing 10 percent of parking meters every three months. If fewer than 75 percent of meters are functioning properly, a city would have to test and calibrate all of its meters.

As long as meters are below that 75 percent threshold, anyone who receives a parking ticket could get an exemption from having to pay.

The bill won unanimous approval from the House Government Committee on Jan. 22 and was awaiting action on the floor.

Such a state law has precedent: Pennsylvania requires cities and towns to test their parking meters every five years.

Campbell said that last year he tried to use a parking meter in Phoenix, but it didn't accept his coins. When he called the City of Phoenix to report it, he said someone reported writing down his complaint and pledging to take care of it. Upon returning to his car a few hours later, however, he said he found a parking ticket.

"I've heard for years that we're going to replace these parking meters, we're going to update them with new ones, they're going to take debit cards and we're here in 2013 and nothing has been changed," Campbell said.

Ken Strobeck, executive director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, said Campbell is taking the wrong approach to reform.

"This plays into the perception that every solution for every problem is more state laws, and I think that this is certainly something that we can try to work out on a city level," Strobeck said.

Rep. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, a member of the House Government Committee, voted to advance the bill but said he was concerned that it only applies to the few Arizona cities that have parking meters.

"I'd love to see something specific to a few cities be addressed at a city level," Petersen said.

Sina Matthes, public information officer for Phoenix, said the city already has a parking-meter maintenance process and checks more than 10 percent of meters every three months. If the bill becomes law, she said, the city may be forced to reallocate resources in the parking- meter section.

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