SLO: (805) 546-8785 | Paso Robles: (805) 226-4148

Parking at the San Luis Obispo Courthouse

Have you ever parked at a non-functioning parking meter to run to the court and returned to your car to find a traffic citation on your windshield?  The laws about broken meters vary from city to city and just like they always say, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

When I checked with the City of San Luis Obispo, I was told the vehicle must be moved to another meter in case the (non-functioning) meter suddenly clears itself.  If you choose not to move the vehicle, have someone stay with the car in case the meter begins to work so they can pump in some coins or use a cash key or credit card.  It might be difficult for a law office with limited staff having an employee  sit in the car and keep an eye on the parking meter.  Better to just move the car.  Parking is enforced from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The City of SLO has a color-coded map to let you know what kind of parking meters you can expect to find in the downtown area.  You can get the parking map from the City of San Luis Obispo website at and click on “Parking Map”.  Every office doing business with the court or City offices should have one.

And at the Paso courthouse, there is no problem with parking meters – yet.

In Ventura County, parking is just plain prohibited at a broken meter.  In Santa Barbara County, it is allowed, but only for 45 minutes.  Some larger cities have begun installing “smart meters” that supposedly self-report maintenance issues.  Usually, there is no way for the municipal authority to know that a meter is broken unless someone reports it – that’s most likely to happen after getting a citation for parking next to one.

It’s best to call the municipality to ask what the local policy is before leaving your car at a broken meter location.  Parking tickets can be expensive!

Ellen Sheffer