FOLLOWUP: What’s happened since sudden closure of West Seattle Licenses

(WSB photo from January)

West Seattle has been without a vehicle-licensing office for almost two months now, and that isn’t going to end very soon. As first reported here in late December, longtime subagent West Seattle Licenses closed at year’s end, with information emerging a week later of an investigation into “improper transactions made by employees at the office.” Meantime, King County – which administers the contracts for offices like this – said it would be looking for a new subagent to serve this area. So today we checked back on where things stand. Regarding that search, county spokesperson Cameron Satterfield told WSB that the Request for Proposals is being finalized and “the posting should go up late this week or early next week.” (You can watch for that here.) As for the investigation, we checked with the state Department of Licensing, which told us there’s nothing new yet – they’re continuing what they call an “administrative review (of) irregularities” since receiving the records and equipment after West Seattle Licenses closed.

32 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: What's happened since sudden closure of West Seattle Licenses"

  • coffeedude February 24, 2020 (2:56 pm)

    I had to get a disabled parking permit and went to the Georgetown office on Friday at 4.  I was in and out in 6 minutes and the staff was so nice.

    • KM February 24, 2020 (4:04 pm)

      Second vote for the Georgetown staff–they are great. We had an error with our paperwork, but they were really patient with us and prepared us for our return trip which was a breeze.    

    • Pelicans February 24, 2020 (4:57 pm)

      Ditto. They were fast, friendly, and we even shared a laugh!

    • Dawsonct February 26, 2020 (8:17 pm)

      While I do miss walking a block and a half to get my tabs, I never mind an excuse to go to Georgetown.And yes, they were all very nice and efficient. 

  • T February 24, 2020 (4:56 pm)

    Has anyone gotten a call from a DOL investigator in Olympia? I called him back but got voicemail. I had asked him to call me  back on a different number but he called the original number and left the same generic message. He just said it was related to a transaction I had late last year at this WS location. I’m wondering if anyone else got a call like this and can tell me what it’s about? I don’t want to keep playing tag with this guy. They have my address and would hopefully send me a letter if it was serious. Thanks.

    • rpo February 24, 2020 (9:21 pm)

      Yes, lots of people of received the same call. Keep trying to call them back. I think they are pretty busy tracking down all of the victims currently.

  • Bradley February 24, 2020 (8:28 pm)

    I refuse to buy my tabs until I-976 is officially recognized. So far, no law enforcement officers have written me a ticket.

    • T February 24, 2020 (8:50 pm)

      Probably no need to worry. I commonly see 2018 and 2017 tabs on  vehicles. 2016 sometimes. These drivers aren’t getting pulled over or getting tickets on neighborhood streets. The ticket is $200+ so seems like if they got one of these tickets, they wouldn’t renew their tabs vs risking another ticket. Way cheaper to just renew.

      • Rumbles February 24, 2020 (9:05 pm)

        I would totally agree with the fact that there are quite a few cars that are not current on their registration.  I guess if you get one year without a ticket and it’s only a $200 fine (which is probably cheaper than the tabs) why not take the risk?   Every year after that is gravy! One step closer to anarchy!

        • Pelicans February 25, 2020 (12:54 am)

          I did see a ticket last month on the new next door neighbor’s vehicle with expired California plates…btw,that $200 fine? If no action is taken this year, I’m tempted to not register. It’s cheaper than tabs on my 14 year old suv.

          • T February 25, 2020 (1:57 am)

            Pelican- was it a plate that spelled out an old beer slogan? Miler time? If so, I saw that same thing.

          • Drako Swiftclaw February 25, 2020 (2:07 am)

            $200 for first offense, $475 for second and third offense, $750 for forth offense and the vehicle can be impounded after that or if you fail to pay the fine and renew tabs.  Cost of impound reclaim is typically over $2500.VLX

        • YouDontGnomeMe February 25, 2020 (11:13 am)

          Rumbles, I’m not quite sure why you posted the link for the broken windows theory? It has widely been proven false, even though many people believe it’s true simply because it reinforces their own feelings. 

      • Myriam Alladen February 26, 2020 (6:07 am)

        I really think it depends on where you live and how well the law enforcement does their job.  My tabs expired end of December 2019 and I live at the top of Queen Anne Hill a block away from Queen Anne Avenue.  Parking and law enforcement up there are like hawks!  I don’t have a garage, driveway or car port…only street parking. I got lucky and talked my way out of a ticket twice but finally had to break down and get my tabs mid February since they were actually looking for my renewal tabs when driving by.

  • 1994 February 24, 2020 (9:28 pm)

    Yep – I see many, many expired tabs every day during my 18 mile round trip drive to work.  If so many people aren’t paying their license tab fees, the recipients of the tax money are apparently not clamoring for enforcement because there are really so many expired tabs out there.  Unless people got their new tabs but just forgot to put them on?

    • T February 25, 2020 (1:44 am)

      A police officer friend once told me there’s a ticket for expired tabs but also a ticket for failure to display (a current tab that has been paid).  Whether a cop or PEO would write a ticket for the later is anyone’s guess.

  • Jim P. February 25, 2020 (1:58 am)

    I am confused. Does not the DMV by Westwood Village handle these issues as well?

    I had assumed a Department of Motor Vehicles might handle motor vehicles but I am a known optimist. ;)

    As a non-driver I apologize if my assumption about what a DMV does for a living is unfounded.

    • bolo February 26, 2020 (2:49 pm)

      Because your “DMV” by Westwood Village is not a DMV. As far as I have seen, there are no DMV in Washington state.

  • Huck February 25, 2020 (6:49 am)

    I stopped using this facility a few years ago because the people there were so rude. 

  • T Rex February 25, 2020 (7:05 am)

    I received my renewal for my tabs on a 2016 SUV and they are almost $500.00! Can someone tell me that IF the $30.00 tabs go into effect between now and the end of March that I can just pay the $30.00 then? The DOL website of course does not say that, they just have a claim that the process to change them is pending. 

    • rpo February 25, 2020 (8:03 am)

      Even if that law goes into effect, it won’t be $30 for Seattle metro residents from what I’ve read. It would just set the base tax at $30, but nowhere in the state are there no additional taxes that have been added on through various laws.  Not sure what that actually means in our area though. 

    • Steve February 25, 2020 (9:27 am)

      Pretty good deal – only $1.37 per day! About the same cost as taking a single ride on a Metro bus every day with a subsidized ORCA LIFT. But you can carry 7 people with your SUV, so you do the math on what a great deal you’re getting compared to the suckers who take the bus. 

      • KM February 25, 2020 (1:27 pm)

        LOL @ SUV’s being driven by people maximizing the capacity more than once a year, if ever.

  • TMC February 25, 2020 (8:21 am)

    I got a $200 ticket for expired tabs when I was parked in front of ArtsWest a couple of weeks ago, so they are checking. The kicker is that we *did* renew our tabs last October at the West Seattle office (~$320), but we never received them in the mail and it went off our radar until we got the ticket. Contested it (my time away from work) and ended up paying $47 for the ticket plus $17 or so for the printing of new tabs at another licensing office (more time away from work to get them). If we wouldn’t have already purchased them, we would have been out new tabs, plus full ticket amount of $200).

    • diane February 26, 2020 (2:20 pm)

      What mail? I’ve licensed or transfered title here at least 10 times. They give you all paperwork when you pay, on the spot.

  • momosmom February 25, 2020 (11:15 am)

    I hate paying so much money to license my car, we all do but it is supposed to be done and this is one of your responsibilities of owning a vehicle  so just do it.Does it make you feel like you are getting back at someone by not doing so? 

  • Dinah Brein February 25, 2020 (12:27 pm)

    So my beef is that if the State thought this law we voted on is unconstitutional, they should have said so before it got on the ballot.  To claim so after the initiative passed seems illegal for them to hide behind because of their list revenue.  What rights or recourse do we voters have?   Is Eyman filling a class action suit against WA.?  I think it was fraud perpetrated on us by not being honest with voters just how much we were going to be gouged on our tabs once that law passed.

    • WSB February 25, 2020 (12:48 pm)

      The state actually is NOT arguing that it’s unconstitutional. State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is leading the case in defense of it.

    • Steve February 25, 2020 (2:08 pm)

      It is up to the submitter to do their due diligence. Otherwise, anti-tax crusaders would submit tons of initiatives for review and waste the government lawyers’ time. The review would have to be before the submitter pays out-of-state signature gatherers to get enough signatures to even be on the ballot. I’m sure Tim Eyman, who makes hundreds of thousands of dollars from his donors per year, can afford to pay his own lawyer to review his initiatives. It’s almost as if he’s not interested in whether the initiatives are legal… Here’s an initiative I’d like to see – no more paid signature gatherers! 

  • Friend O'Dinghus February 25, 2020 (8:21 pm)

    I love Steve’s initiative idea and would happily sign it. I think I might even encourage others to sign an initiative which limits, or perhaps fully eliminates, the use of paid signature gathers. Astroturfing is killing this great land of ours, and increasingly has been for decades now. It would equalize the playing field to those who are interested enough in a cause to actually volunteer their time. Interesting concept. Thanks Steve.

  • 1994 February 26, 2020 (6:00 pm)

    I recently sold an old car privately. The tabs were good for another 6 months but the new owner of the car had to pay for new tabs! I understand the logic of new license plates, but why can’t the government provide new tabs expiring in the same month just like the ones already paid for. The state and local taxing districts are making out like bandits by getting paid twice for the same time frame! Seems like either I should get a refund (government knows exactly who sold and bought) or the new owner should get a break by being provided new tabs at no cost but expiring at the same time as those already paid for….

Sorry, comment time is over.