Parking Meter Felon?

I recently heard that putting change in a parking meter that is not yours is a violation of the law. Is this true? The context I heard was someone was going along a busy street one meter in front of the parking enforcement officer putting in quarters to thwart the ticketing attempts. The parking enforcement officer told the person that it was illegal. Is this true everywhere? Anywhere? What justification is there for this?

The laws are passed by municipalaties, It’s not a Federal offense. It’s a money making scheme for the towns. Tickets make more money.

First, of course, as Carmen has pointed out, “feeding” is not a felony.

I do believe that the legal issue is not that a “stranger” is feeding someone else’s meter, but that anyone is feeding the meter.

Meter feeding in general is a no-no. Meters usually entitle the parker to a spot for a limited period of time (usually specified on or near the meter). If you exceed that period – regardless of whether the meter is “fed” at the time or not – you are in violation of the law.

Of course these time limits tend to be very loosely enforced, but when someone is wrecking the entire parking-ticketing ecosystem by making the entire vicinity a limitless free-parking zone, the authorities are entitled to fight back with the time limit law.

Personally, I love the idea of parking “angels” saving joe citizen from a $105 fine (yes $105 – I live in NYC), but truth be told they are also helping to freeze legit parking spots off the market, so to speak. And that’s no fun when you need a spot.

Hm. After I’m done with a parking space, I leave. It doesn’t matter how much time is left on the meter. If someone is parked and the meter runs out, then they get a ticket – but they’re still parked there. So it seems to me that “angels” are not depriving anyone of a parking space, but that they might be letting someone get free parking after the previous person leaves with time remaining on the meter.

One well publicized case concerned a Cincinnati woman named Sylvia Stayton who stuck coins in a couple meters when she saw a cop handing out tickets. She got arrested and fined, much to her surprise, and became a minor cause celebre when the media had a field day with the idea of how ridiculous it was for the cops to arrest a 63 year old grandmother for sticking a few coins in somebody else’s meter. Of course, if it had been some bearded biker type who had done the same thing, it wouldn’t have been picked up as a news story.

There have been periodic instances of people or organizations hitting on the idea of feeding expired parking meters to put “random acts of kindness” into action, and finding out that they are doing something illegal in most municipalities. Another more comical case occured in Santa Cruz in 1995:

Oh, and I agree with Johnny LA’s reasoning - nobody just “camps” in a parking space just because there’s still time on the meter, and nobody is going to object to finding an empty one with some time on it.

I wonder what they would do if you took to sticking coins in the meters on EMPTY spaces. Of course, in places like San Francisco, that would be strictly a theoretical exercise.

Personally, I think that whatever excuse municipal governments might be offering, the real reason they don’t like this is that it deprives them of parking ticket revenue.

Johnny, there have been instances where local business groups organize or “encourage” parking angels to keep their neighborhood ticket-free. The idea, of course is, to make the area customer-friendly and build good will.

But if people know that they’ll have unlimited free parking, a 30-minute shopping trip could easily be stretched into a 60-minute trip. The 30-minute “gotta go – the meter is about to expire” braintrigger helps turn over those spots.

It’d be doubly hypothetical. But first off, what’s an empty space?

Some of the new meters are able to sense the departure of a car and zero out the time so there’s no chance someone can arrive and find time remaining. It’s evil, and solely to provide more money to the city.