City loosens the rules for gardening in “parking strips”

Read on for the official announcement:

Mayor Greg Nickels today announced improvements to make
gardening in planting strips easier for Seattle’s residents. The new
planting strip policy, issued by the Seattle Department of
Transportation (SDOT), eliminates any permit requirements for gardens
and ends fees previously required for hardscape improvements, such as
planter boxes or pavers.

“This change makes it easier to plant flowers and vegetables in the
strip between the sidewalk and the street. For many gardeners, that’s
prime space,” said Nickels. “It’s one of the things that makes
Seattle special, and, with planting season upon us, it’s time to get
those green thumbs going.”

Under the new rules announced today, residents no longer need to obtain
a $225 permit for hardscape improvements, such as raised gardens or
stepping stones. Instead, they can obtain a free online permit for these
improvements and to plant a tree at:

SDOT has updated its Web site with information explaining the rules:

16 Replies to "City loosens the rules for gardening in "parking strips""

  • Erik May 11, 2009 (4:56 pm)

    We needed permission before?
    Perhaps they noticed that so many of us did what we wanted with the parking strips anyways they gave in.

  • Mike May 11, 2009 (5:25 pm)

    I believe these are considered city property but the home owner is responsible for maintaining that area correct? I think that’s why you still need a permit but at least it’s free now.

  • GenHillOne May 11, 2009 (5:45 pm)

    LOL, Erik, I’m with you! So we were supposed to get a $225 permit, pay for any stepping stones and/or plantings, and maintain those stepping stones and/or plantings…but don’t park – or even put your tires up – on that PARKING strip or you’ll get a ticket. Makes perfect sense, doesn’t it? ;)

  • DrewWestSeattle May 11, 2009 (8:34 pm)

    Gee, thanks Nickels. So now I can plant in the “planting strip” without paying for a permit, still need one, its just free now…. How does this make Seattle special?

  • MrJT May 11, 2009 (8:42 pm)

    Another fine example of SDOT running at top speed.

  • gordon May 11, 2009 (11:16 pm)

    Yep. Saw a bunch of “warnings” posted on vehicles last week by the Highpoint library for squatting on parking strips. Now if they could just get the ones blocking the sidewalks….

  • Karen May 12, 2009 (7:15 am)

    Does anyone remember who to contact regarding the tree’s that were planted in parking strips? Mine did not survive the transplant and needs to be replaced.

  • KatherineL May 12, 2009 (7:36 am)

    The city requires permits so they can see that nobody plants trees that will grow into overhead wires. Or some kind of invasive plant. Maybe they should call it a review rather than a permit.

  • KSJ May 12, 2009 (7:45 am)

    Good news! Now we are almost not illegal for planting some fruit trees in the parking strip last year!

  • Sage May 12, 2009 (7:48 am)

    Would love to see the total #s of parking strip planting permits applied for. Bet it’s up there with the number of cat licenses.

  • GenHillOne May 12, 2009 (8:22 am)

    KatherineL, yeah, I completely get the need for some rules/guidelines and agree. Trees, invasive plants, access to meters and hydrants, and plant height (there are rules about blocking a driver’s view of a corner for example) – all important. Some blunt public education would go a long way – like DON’T plant tree species x, y, and z.

    If I lived on a quieter street, I’d be all over claiming the space for vegetables. As it is though, I doubt I’d ever see any of the “fruits of my labor” :)

  • Jay May 12, 2009 (8:59 am)

    Nolan Rundquist,, is the contact for the trees that where planted in parking strips last winter in several parts of the West Seattle.

  • B-Squared May 12, 2009 (9:00 am)

    I am all for utilizing the parking strip for planting. i am concerned though that people will plant things that are way too large, interfering with power lines or visability or access along the sidewalk, especially long after they have moved away. if the general public could be trusted to make decisions about this space that took others into account (like not putting raised beds right up next to the curb so you can’t open a car door, or not providing a path through the planting so you can actually get out of the car), all the better. hopefully that will be the case. personally, my parking strip is a huge dog toilet and i wouldn’t eat anything out of it unless i replace the soil down about a foot and raised the bed.

    This link is interesting:

    it makes mention of a Streetside Garden Contest in seattle although the link seem broken. with the interest in vegetable gardening greatly expanding, it would be a cool idea to revive that, even if it were only in west seattle.

  • alkibeach May 12, 2009 (9:28 am)

    So, does that mean I can now PLANT my car on the planting strip. I live on a narrow side street near the Ferry dock and I cannot for the life of me understand the reasoning of not being allowed to park. It seems to me that it would only help to prevent side swiping.

  • WestSeattleDrew May 12, 2009 (3:11 pm)

    Planting your car on the “planting strip”, which used to be and still is in some places called the “parking strip”, dream on alkibeach. The city would rather see you get side swiped. I received a ticket last year for having 4 inches of my tire parked on the curb, only because the garbage man asked me to so he could get down the narrow street. The judge laughed at me and ordered that I pay the ticket in FULL.

  • Roadsterboy May 13, 2009 (12:22 pm)

    Most of us use common sense and don’t create problems when improving our planting strips, so it can be hard to understand why these rules are imposed upon us. Unfortunately, I’ve seen enough problems to understand why we have the rules–it’s to protect the rest of us from those with no common sense. I’ve seen street trees that I know the city doesn’t allow and that will eventually heave the sidewalks, probably after the person who planted it is gone, so it becomes the new owner’s problem (I paid over $7,000 to fix a previous owner’s mistakes–tree and sidewalk removal, stump grinding, sidewalk replacement and new trees). I’ve also seen plants and planter boxes so close to the curb that one can’t open a car door (maybe they don’t want people to park in front of their house?). With regard to parking on planting strips, we can’t park there for the same reason that we can’t park on our front lawns and myriad other rules. It’s not just about our own convenience–we’re not living on 40 acres in the country where nobody can see what we do, so we have to consider the impact on our neighbors, too. Many of these rules are intended to keep our neighborhoods looking tidy and orderly, without major eyesores. It might seem a hassle to you now that you can’t park on “your” planting strip (it’s not actually yours), but when you’re trying to sell your house and “curb appeal” will affect the sale price, you might appreciate the neighbors not parking on theirs.

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