Local 2 Investigates tracks broken parking meters

City recieved 3,567 parking meter complaints in 2013

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - Local 2 Investigates found there were more than 3,000 complaints about broken parking meters in Houston in 2013.

"It seems like every other day, they're having issues with it," said Jessie Fierro, a driver who parks downtown. "They are not printing or it's out of order."

The locations with the most parking meter complaints in 2013 were:

  • 3500 Cullen Blvd. & Holman -- University of Houston
  • 1400 Lubbock - Houston Municipal Court
  • 1300 Binz & Caroline -- Museum District
  • 800 Girard & Travis -- University of Houston-Downtown
  • 1100 LaBranch & Downtown -- near Discovery Green.

"The frequency of errors we have in our meters is less than one percent, so it's uncommon," said Chris Newport, spokesperson for the City of Houston. "But we do have issues."

Newport says the most common complaint is parking meters don't have power. Most meters run on solar power and when the sun fades or it's a rainy day, batteries can run out. Local 2 Investigates found other meters that wouldn't print receipts.

The city of Houston has more than 3,000 parking meters, but just six maintenance technicians to repair them. Newport says if you see a parking meter that is not working properly, you should use the 311 system and report it.

"We need to know whether a meter is working or not," said Newport. "You're not required to walk to the next meter, but let us know. You'll get that service request into the system and everything will take care of itself."

Will you still get a parking ticket if the closest meter doesn't work? Newport says parking enforcement officers usually are notified about bad meters. If you report a broken parking meter to the city, you should keep the 311 service request number.

That documentation could help defend you if you do receive a parking ticket.

There is a way to skip the parking meter altogether. You can use the city's parkmobile system. Once you set up an account, you can download the app to your smart phone. That allows you to pay for your parking directly from your phone by entering the green location number found on every parking meter. That allows parking enforcement officers to know you've paid.

"They have access to it. You have the electronic record," Newport said. "You don't have to mess with currency, a credit card or whether a receipt prints out."

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