Warning: If you park on the street – better brush up on the law

We’ve received a couple of reports lately of parking rules being enforced in West Seattle neighborhoods where residents swear they’ve never seen a Parking Enforcement Officer before. As of a short time ago, that includes ours; we bolted out the front door upon spotting a PEO checking our license plates. COMPLETELY guilty of parking with our wheels touching the sidewalk, which is not raised on our miniblock, but that’s no excuse; she let us off with a warning, provided we moved the cars to comply. But given the reports we’ve had recently, we are publishing this note as a public service advising you to bone up on the parking rules if you also park on the street; you can read many of them here. If you’ve routinely parked closer to a stop sign than the signs say you’re supposed to, DON’T. Wheels on the sidewalk, like us? DON’T. Car pointed the wrong way? DON’T. Precinct leaders mentioned recently that another parking-enforcement officer was going to be headquartered at their facility soon and we’re checking to see if perhaps this officer has arrived, concurrent with this stepped-up activity. Meantime, besides the link mentioned earlier, here’s the complete Seattle Municipal Code parking section; we see the sidewalk rule we broke is here; the stop-sign rule we’ve undoubtedly broken before is here; the rule about pointing in the correct direction is here.

ADDENDUM: Southwest Precinct Lt. Steve Paulsen‘s reply to our question: The third PEO is NOT here in West Seattle yet; he adds, “We don’t direct our Parking Enforcement into the residential neighborhoods unless there are complaints coming in to 911 or parking enforcement. The priorities are business districts for the turnover of parking. We also provide priority to RPZ enforcement as well.”

47 Replies to "Warning: If you park on the street - better brush up on the law"

  • Angelina March 31, 2009 (3:52 pm)

    Please remember that the Parking Enforcement Officers are only doing their jobs and not trying to piss you off.

    PEOs are people too.

  • The Velvet Bulldog March 31, 2009 (3:52 pm)

    I’m confused about the sidewalk thing. Is that different from having your wheels touching the curb? I thought you were supposed to do that in case of brake failure.

  • WSB March 31, 2009 (3:56 pm)

    Angelina, important point. We didn’t go charging out in a hostile manner, fwiw, it was just to see what the problem was, and now that we realize where we were breaking the law, we will be extra careful not to.
    VBD — In front of our house, the sidewalk is level with the street, with a dirt-strip buffer. In more normally laid out situations, what we did, I suppose, would be the equivalent to having your right wheels all the way up on the sidewalk, like some people do on very busy streets such as 35th and Harbor Ave.

  • mike March 31, 2009 (4:02 pm)

    That’ll teach you! Think again before murdering poor granules of sod like that.

    I’d feel a lot safer if we took that extra peo and put him towards investigating and reducing the number of car break ins.

  • JanS March 31, 2009 (4:08 pm)

    Parking enforcement officers…a little funny story that has really nothing to add to the above. In a forum thread someone brought up DonaQueen donuton 4th, near Lander. So, yesterday, I stopped in on the way home from a doc appt. The only person sitting inside, actually, really, having a donut and coffee, was a police officer, so his uniform said. I looked outside and there sat a little PEO vehicle. I had to chuckle to myself, because of the notorious reputation re: police and donuts. Wish I could have sneakily gotten a picture.

    So..y’all behave yourselves out there…and, TR…thanks for the links to “the rules”…we sometimes forget…

    oh, and BTW, the garlic chicken at DonaQueen was really good (5 bucks plus change)…and the apple fritter had just the right amount of deep fried-ness :)

  • Scott March 31, 2009 (4:13 pm)

    Too bad there isn’t more effort about the “California” non-stops that so many folks do.
    That and the left hand turns at Avalon/35th during the posted hours… keeps happening.
    Lastly, with all the car break-ins, anyone at SPD got a bait car available???

  • p March 31, 2009 (4:19 pm)

    I am EXTRA glad that we have another PEO in West Seattle. I have a HORRIBLE time with the 2 hour business zone in front of our business and we have 2 repeat offenders who think that they can park all day in the 2 hour zone every day which blocks access to our customers. We have 4 spaces and sometimes the 2 offenders take all 4 spaces. We have asked nicely many times and been told to basically blank off. So, now we just call the parking patrol daily and hope that they get a ticket. It greatly impacts our business on some days.

  • Save Our Streets Seattle March 31, 2009 (4:23 pm)

    I have to STRONGLY disagree with Southwest Precinct Lt. Steve Paulsen’s statement “We don’t direct our Parking Enforcement into the residential neighborhoods unless there are complaints coming in to 911 or parking enforcement.” I have recently witnessed the reported increase in PEOs in MANY of the residential neighborhoods of West Seattle including mine where I know someone wouldn’t have called in our local parking “quirks.”

  • zero-to-life in West Seattle March 31, 2009 (4:24 pm)

    Wager with hubby on this one…the car parked facing the wrong direction…Is that on arterials or on residential streets as well? I read the code and am now appropriately confused.

  • Gene March 31, 2009 (4:28 pm)

    What is the thinking behind the law that you have to move your car every 72 hours? That seems pretty wasteful if you don’t actually need to take your car anywhere often – which is part of the point of living in a city with “decent” mass transit.

  • WSB March 31, 2009 (4:31 pm)

    Zero – I have heard of people facing the wrong way being ticketed on strictly residential streets. My reading seemed to suggest you just can’t point the wrong way anywhere. (Now, if only we could get rid of back-in angled parking … some of us just don’t have the skill to handle that … OK, maybe it’s just me … )

  • zero-to-life in West Seattle March 31, 2009 (4:37 pm)

    That’s what I thought….quick, gotta move the minivan before the PEO heads down Thistle to 28th!

  • CB March 31, 2009 (4:38 pm)

    Get ready for more of this. The city is looking for dollars where ever they can find them. This has NOTHING to do with law enforcement. It is purely about collecting additional revenue since sales tax collections are way down.

  • 56bricks March 31, 2009 (4:43 pm)

    ‘Bout time.

  • Angelina March 31, 2009 (4:47 pm)

    I know you wouldnt WSB!!!

    Just a general reminder. PEOs get the short end of the stick sometimes, damned if they do… damned if they dont…

  • BB March 31, 2009 (4:55 pm)

    That little 3-wheeled PEO “car” has recently shown up in our neighborhood (3 weeks ago or so). I suspect its officer lives in the 4900 block of 50th SW.

  • AmyT March 31, 2009 (5:19 pm)

    Man…we’ve learned a lot about the various parking rules lately!

    A neighbor lady of ours likes to call on us and the other neighbors quite often.

    I park close to the curb in an attempt to protect my car from passing cars. But the rule is that no only can you not park too close to the curb but you also have to be at least 5 feet away from your own driveway opening! Excuse me…I mean, “the city’s” driveway opening.

    Funny thing the complaining neighbor lady parks 2 of her cars on her front lawn (it’s in the code that you can’t do that either).

    Our PEO lady is extremely cool by the way and we’ve escaped any tickets so far. In fact she usually comments “what’s that lady’s problem?!” as she complains so much.

    I think next time my neighbor calls PE on me I’ll just send them right over to her house…

  • Mr.JT March 31, 2009 (6:03 pm)

    Does this mean that there is hope for getting the Crown Vic guy in the Admiral/Belvidere area taken care of ? :)

  • KateMcA March 31, 2009 (6:08 pm)

    Bummer! I really would have liked to see more patrol officers rather than more parking enforcement, especially after an incident about a month ago where a huge group of morons got into a fight (one of whom was wielding a CROWBAR) in our driveway… Parking infractions might be a nuisance, but usually aren’t a matter of public safety!

  • Julie March 31, 2009 (6:16 pm)

    I agree that abandoned junk vehicles should be moved from neighborhoods in a timely fashion. The enforcement of abandoned vehicle parking is a joke, though. Obviously, if a vehicle is registered to the address that it is parked near, in front of, side of, etc. It’s probably safe to assume that it is not abandoned.

    We live on a corner and don’t have alley access. We can’t park in our rear yard and don’t have a garage/carport. We pay over $5000 in property taxes(which is about $600 month and should cover parking for goodness sake). We have received a couple of notices to move our boat within 72 hours. I don’t want to spend another $300 mo to store it. You can’t park on parking strip. Many on our residential street have received tickets. We haven’t been ticketed, but have stickers attached that say basically “move it or lose it” No one ever parks in the spot vacated when we move it for the required 24 hours. We have moved it for 3 days, and still the only people that parked there was us. We move it back to the same spot. We just have to go through the motions and frankly its stupid.

    PEO’s should spend time on real enforcement issues, not some neighbor’s issue with too much time on their hands.

    One question is… what happens if you are out of town for more than 3 days and can’t move your vehicle?

    There must be some way for PEO to use a little more common sense and not just ticket vehicles that aren’t abandoned.

  • Todd March 31, 2009 (6:47 pm)

    Mr JT – I sure hope so!

  • alki_2008 March 31, 2009 (7:20 pm)

    Ditto what CB said. It’s being done for revenue. Not saying they shouldn’t do it.
    zero – I wonder too about the parking direction thing. What about those small residential streets where there’s only one lane and people drive that lane in both directions…and there’s only parking on one side of that street? Does the law mean that people always have to park on the passenger side of the street?
    Scott – the PEO’s are only out to enforce “parking” regulations, not moving violations.
    About the ‘no parking within 30 feet’ sign. It would be helpful if the city would put a mark of some sort at the curb that indicates where the 30 foot distance is…or maybe I should carry a tape measure with me, but it’s only 25 feet long.

  • Near Alki March 31, 2009 (7:52 pm)

    So I got to talk about TR’s problem with back in angle parking…like at the WS YMCA…I love parking in those spots, it keeps my parking skills honed…of course I do have a car with a back-up beeper…and camera. Technology has spoiled me and weakened so many of my skills.

  • zero-to-life in West Seattle March 31, 2009 (7:57 pm)

    I break into a sweat parallel-parking on the LEFT side on one-way streets downtown…the pressure!

  • WSB March 31, 2009 (8:04 pm)

    Most of my problem is due to depth perception/farsightedness. Add that to the disorientation of trying to gauge through the rear-view and side mirrors, and without doing it regularly enough to really figure it out, it’s just too unnerving. But nonetheless, sometimes it has to be done. Like downtown White Center.

  • Near Alki March 31, 2009 (8:18 pm)

    TR, take no offense…even with side mirror skills, rear view mirror, back up beeper and camera. when I back in angle park at the YMCA I still have to get out of my car, look at how the painted lines a line with my car…usually my first attempt is a failure and the second or third is victory, but sometimes I just have to drive away humbled in defeat ;)

  • Lou March 31, 2009 (8:38 pm)

    Yeah…finally enforcement of parking in the wrong direction. Being from CA where people don’t park in the wrong direction as they will get ticketed, I’m glad to see this will be enforced here. I actually didn’t think it was a law in WA since so many people violated it.

    As for backup camera camera and parking sonar – I have those as well…I love them. Unfortunately, when I’m in a car without them, let’s just hope you are not parked near me. :-)

  • Pete March 31, 2009 (8:55 pm)

    Sometimes folks forget that the PEO is simply enforcing the law. If you do not agree with the law as written then you should take actions to get the law changed. There is obviously a reason that any particular law was put in place to begin with.

  • Near Alki March 31, 2009 (9:05 pm)

    Sometimes when I’m on vacation and renting a car, I’m so used to back up cameras and beepers, I feel like I need one of those guys you see on the airport tarmac with the flags guiding the airplane to the terminal ;)

  • marty March 31, 2009 (9:36 pm)

    Julie: The street is not your “private” RV parking lot. People don’t want to look at your boat, store it or sell it!

    Brush up on your math too, $5,000 a year is a little over $400 a month, not $600.

  • emoticant March 31, 2009 (10:20 pm)

    I also thought it was legal to park in the wrong direction, since so many cars here do that. Is there a rule for how close you have to be to the curb – like a set number of inches the side of your car has to be within, parallel to the curb? All I saw was that your car has to leave x number of feet passable in the street, but no mention of how close your wheels need to be to the curb.

  • grr March 31, 2009 (11:25 pm)

    the 72 hr thing is there to keep car wranglers at bay. It’s also illegal to park a commercial sized (UHaul) type truck in front of your house.

    as far as driveways go…I do have a GRRR moment. THis past winter, in order to keep my vehicle from getting trashed during SnowZilla, we tried getting both of our cars in our single driveway. Mine stuck out THREE inches (yes.. I measured) past the driveway/sidewalk demarkation.

    $50 ticket for blocking a public sidewalk. Seriously.

  • CandrewB April 1, 2009 (6:13 am)

    “Yeah…finally enforcement of parking in the wrong direction. Being from CA where people don’t park in the wrong direction as they will get ticketed, I’m glad to see this will be enforced here.”


  • RPH April 1, 2009 (8:39 am)

    Parking in the wrong direction is common with the terrible drivers in the High Point neighborhood, and has never been enforced by ticketing. Derelict vehicles, some with year old expired tabs, parked on the street for weeks beyond the 72 hour limit, have been difficult to get ticketed even after numerous calls to parking enforcement. Consistent law enforcement would be greatly welcomed.

  • Johnny Davies April 1, 2009 (9:24 am)

    Marty – BINGO!
    I have nieghbors on my street who own 4 or 5 project cars and/or sell cars. It is completely frustrating when you can’t find a parking spot, yet their cars have been sitting there for weeks.
    If you’re not using your vehicles/assets on a daily basis (72 hours), find a place to store them! BE CONSIDERATE NEIGHBORS!

  • RS April 1, 2009 (9:32 am)

    Ditto to CandrewB. Why do people care if cars are parked in the wrong direction??

  • CMP April 1, 2009 (9:47 am)

    Glad to see the directionally challenged parked cars are getting tickets. Didn’t anyone pay attention on the driving exam that this is illegal? My stupid neighbors on Dawson do this all the time and it drives me crazy. I swear one day an entire block was parked in the wrong direction.

  • jsrekd April 1, 2009 (10:34 am)

    The reason we care if the car is parked the “correct” way on the street is the danger of pulling out into oncoming traffic from the “wrong” side of the street. You can’t see what’s coming until you’ve already pulled out into traffic. PEO’s are NOT police officers, they are civilians with a uniform. They cannot enforce moving violations. We really don’t want them making “traffic stops”, believe me.

  • RS April 1, 2009 (10:36 am)

    Hmmm, okay, fair enough. Deviance has long been normalized here in WS though. It’s going to take quite a few tickets to change that behavior.

  • KM April 1, 2009 (10:45 am)

    RPH – I live in the unincorporated area of Seattle/Burien and accidentally called Burien to report a neighbor’s abandoned car. The guy (yep I actually SPOKE to someone to report the car) directed me to call Seattle’s automated line to deal with it. He said that the trick to getting them to skip the orange warning sticker stage and move straight to the towing stage is to mention that the tabs on the car a extremely expired and the the car has been in an accident and is obviouly not driveable…he said just shove it into one of your answers after their automated questions. Our neighbor’s car was towed in one week!

  • KM April 1, 2009 (10:46 am)

    Oh, and give the actual dates of the tabs to prove that you looked.

  • MNGirl April 1, 2009 (3:49 pm)

    From the code: SMC 11.72.470 Wrong side parking.

    No person shall stop, stand or park a vehicle on that portion of any street or alley lawfully set aside for the parking of vehicles or movement of traffic in the direction opposite to that which the parked vehicle faces.

    Could someone explain that to me…does that mean I have to park going “up” the hill in front of my house (east side of street) or can I continue to park facing “down” the hill on the east side. I like to park facing down the hill as my driver’s side door then opens to the sidewalk and not into the traffic. Our whole block does this at times… are we in violation. I’m having a little trouble figuring out exactly what that code says. :)

  • WSB April 1, 2009 (3:51 pm)

    Unless your street is one way and you’re parking on the left side of that one-way street, parking with your driver’s-side door along the sidewalk would be a violation.

  • grr April 1, 2009 (8:59 pm)

    it’s really simple..mn…ya park in front of your house with the traffic flow on your side of the street. That means your drivers door is on the STREET side, not the sidewalk side.

  • Highpoint Resident April 2, 2009 (5:38 pm)

    These people that insist in parking on the wrong side of the street are a menace. On some of the narrow streets in High Point, people who are parked on the wrong side can not see on coming traffic nor traffic behind them. I have personally witnessed 5 near hits. Come on Traffic enforcement, does it take an accident to get things done? You should drive through at night that is when it is ridiculous. How hard is it to park your car on the right side of the street facing in the right direction?

  • KateMcA April 3, 2009 (9:35 am)

    FYI- a PEO is out on 34th Ave SW between Barton and Cambridge. If you’re parked there, watch out. Oh, and the PEO is driving a really nice looking Jeep Liberty– thanks for finding only the most fuel-efficient cars for making frequent stops Seattle!

  • alki_2008 April 3, 2009 (3:47 pm)

    I think the biggest question with ‘wrong side’ parking is that many streets are only ONE lane…so traffic goes in BOTH directions. Which was is the correct way if there is parking on only one side of the street, while traffic in BOTH directions on that street.
    No matter which direction your car faces, then you’ll be pulling into the traffic flow AND opposite traffic flow…since the traffic flows in BOTH directions.

Sorry, comment time is over.