Reader report: How to handle a neighborhood parking problem

Not too long ago, Elise wrote with a question/concern about a van parked in her neighborhood and whether it had the right to be parked the way it was frequently parked. We made a suggestion or two in e-mail; some of her questions had to do with the rules about Residential Parking Zones (city webpage here), and as Elise proceeded to do some research, she thought you might benefit from what she found out:

1) Even if you have a zone permit (or guest permit) you must move your car every 72 hours. Basically, having the permit does not exempt you from those rules. But, you are allowed to park anywhere in your zone as long as you
have your permit.

2) The city is considering changing the rules on the # of permits that can be issued per/household to only 2. I asked when this would be in effect and she said she did not know. City Councilwoman Jan Drago chairs the Transportation Committee, so she would be a good person to contact in order to express support of this proposal (

3) If you have complaints about habitual “junk” motor vehicles in the neighborhood it’s best to still call the abandoned vehicle hotline at 206-684-8763. This creates an electronic track record of the car(s) movements. Like the guy in our neighborhood with 8 cars – they refer to those people as “car ranchers” (anyone with between 5-30 cars) who constantly move their cars around on city streets to avoid getting tickets. The only way to have the city do anything about them is by creating the electronic track record. The person I spoke with at the Citizen Service Bureau (206-684-8811) also said the UW School of Law offers a free “Mediation Clinic” to help resolve issues between neighbors (obviously for extreme situations), but their # is 206-685-4140.

17 Replies to "Reader report: How to handle a neighborhood parking problem"

  • PSPS August 31, 2008 (1:34 pm)

    I wonder if anyone has done this regarding the “farm” of auctioned ex-police Crown Victorias littering the neighborhood around Webster’s for the past several years.
    I sometimes drive through a First Hill neighborhood where there are a couple of houses with, essentially, fenced-in car lots on their property. The’ve both got the same ten or eleven cars crammed in there bumper-to-bumper every time I drive by. I wonder what that’s all about too.

  • paul August 31, 2008 (3:00 pm)

    I turn in every car rancher I find. So far the city has been very good about ending this type of activity. Now if I can just get them to enforce the 2 hour business zone in front of my business we will have it made!

  • MrJT August 31, 2008 (4:23 pm)

    I have been turning in the Crown Vic guy once a month for the last year. NOTHING happens. He goes out the day they get tagged and moves them all around and what do you know, the clock resets. As for an electronic track record of where they are parking, great is the city doing anything with that information? He has even taken to parking them as far as 38th and Charleston.

  • PSPS August 31, 2008 (9:53 pm)

    Yeah, I sometimes see them (the Crown Victorias) in far flung places too. They’re easy to spot — blackwalls, spotlight, and he always puts a “the club” on their steering wheels.
    Does he sell them on eBay? Is it some kind of fetish? Does he drive around impersonating a cop? Are they kept for spare parts for his family Crown Vic?

  • grr September 1, 2008 (12:51 am)

    Got a few in my neighborhood as well. Two ‘commercial’ trucks that rotate and park in front of ALL of our houses from time to time. ARRRGH…Sooo nice to look at first thing in the morning.

  • enforcement nulu September 1, 2008 (12:28 pm)

    I have found it nearly impossible to get parking laws enforced. Parking enforcement officers are quick to tell violators and scofflaws that their particular infraction had to have been called in by a complaining neighbor. They can drive by a vehicle with expired plates and weeds growing fender high around the car daily for years and never do a thing, unless some one calls it in. The 72 hour law is a joke. There is also a statute that bans any vehicle over 80″ wide being parked on the street after 11PM that Parking Enforcement will not enforce. Also, it is illegal to park trailers and boats on the street, in the alley or on the planting strip, no enforcement. My last complaint regarding SPD Parking Enforcement is their refusal to enforce laws banning parking vehicles on planting strips and sidewalks, i.e. the Southwest Straddle. I complained to a Traffic Supervisor after being chewed out by an enforcement officer for, “wasting my (her) time,” by calling in planting strip straddlers. Our neighborhoods would be cleaner and nicer with less neighborly disputes if the SPD enforced the codes. The government’s coffers would also grow if the hundreds of expired cars parked on our streets were cited and required to maintain current plates.

  • Todd September 1, 2008 (7:34 pm)

    Totally agree nulu! Amen.

    What I don’t get is, what is it with people who have the crown vics? As in, why have so many or more than one can park on their own property? Did they get them for a dollar or something? Seems like a PITA to have to deal with them on the street for the owner and for the neighbors who have to look at them/call them in.

  • MrJT September 1, 2008 (8:14 pm)

    Really Todd turning them in is no problem, you take a couple of quick pictures when your walking the dog for location. I have the make/color/plates all written down. takes about 2 minutes to do all 8 cars. I can’t figure out how the guy affords the $28 tickets on 8 cars 3 times a month.. :)

  • Todd September 1, 2008 (10:21 pm)

    JT, I think we are in the same area. Didn’t mean for it to sound like it was a pain for us residents to turn them in or anything like that. I’ve been thinking of filling out the complaint form online and as I read through the comments the thought occured to me that you and I may report the same car(s) LOL. I liked your comments. Hopefully with our tenacity, something will happen eventually to the ranchers or atleast we can make it as uncomfortable as possible for them. Cheers mate.

  • Barkdust September 2, 2008 (7:42 am)

    The 72 hour thing puzzles me. If you take public transit to the airport for a week of vacation, where do you park your car? It sounds like they want you to drive to SeaTac and use one of the exorbitant lots down there. If so, why did we build that light rail?

  • WSratsinacage September 2, 2008 (9:46 am)

    Does anyone know why it seems like most wranglers have those cars previously used as police cruisers?

  • enforcement nulu September 2, 2008 (10:01 am)

    Barkdust, the 72 hour thing is a joke because it is not enforceable. If you call in a 72 hour violator, it goes into the “abandoned vehicles” detail with a response time measured in weeks not hours. After the abandoned vehicle squad finally responds, they place an orange sticker on the offending vehicle’s windshield. After that the offender technically has 72 hours to notice the sticker and move the vehicle. In practice, the enforcement officers often do not show up again for several more days/weeks or not at all unless another report is called in.
    In your example the legal thing to do is park in your garage or driveway, but parking on the street for a week (or even longer) is defacto legal. Scofflaws throughout West Seattle are aware of the process and easily exploit it. As a result, there are hundreds of vehicles illegally stored on our public streets.

  • WSratsinacage September 2, 2008 (10:34 am)

    very well put nulu

  • Rick September 2, 2008 (1:12 pm)

    I have cars from apartment buildings parked in front of my business in a marked 1 hour zone constantly. There’s even a office across the street and down a block that also regularly parks in front of my business so as not to tie up spots for their customers. After numerous calls over the years I’ve actually been told that there is not enough manpower to enforce the parking law. The city website is a bit helpful though, I’ve actually gotten a pretty quick response a couple of times. With the increased density here I think parking will continue to become more of a problem. Good luck to all affected.

  • MrJT September 2, 2008 (7:20 pm)

    Todd, it sounds like we are in the same area. Its been a good week or two since the list come out, so its about time. Watch for the orange stickers. Im going after that beat up old motorhome now too.

  • WS trailerpark October 7, 2008 (8:59 am)

    Does anyone know what the regulations are regarding living in a “trailer” in someones back yard for an extended period of time? My neighbor has allowed someone to move there small trailer onto her property abutting the alley and move in a sanican and live there. He’s been there for several months and just wondering what anyone might know about if this is legal or not.

  • WSB October 7, 2008 (10:14 am)

    Since this post is old, I don’t think you’ll get answers, but I would advise you to research the city code online and/or call DPD – sounds like a land use issue, potentially. try
    let me know if you have trouble finding the right info

Sorry, comment time is over.