‘Stay home’ – unless you need to get your car at the tow yard: What happened on Avalon

As noted here last weekend, the 35th/Avalon/Alaska project is in the final stretch – with nighttime paving this week on Avalon west of 35th, and permanent striping/markers for the entire project zone. As part of the latter, some parking spots were marked “NO PARKING” starting today. That led to multiple tows, according to multiple readers plus a conversation we heard via scanner (and mentioned in a tweet at the time). That conversation mentioned “possibly 20” tows. Then we received this reader report saying it might have been more:

I discovered my car was towed out from in front of my apartment at 30xx SW Avalon Way around 3 pm, assuming it happened sometime today. Due to the Striping project. In the past there has been advance noticed and communication (that) this was happening. I do not believe there was reasonable notice given this time, as I do not recall seeing any no parking signs. I called a number from a flyer that is now definitely visible and spoke to (a) work crew member who said they had printed signs Friday and put out over the weekend. Again, I do not recall seeing these signs; of course I could have missed them. But considering the state is under Gov Inslee’s order to stay inside. I don’t believe this was a reasonable notice or expectation to residents.

I approached the work crew and spoke to a retired Traffic officer for advice. The work crew person told me they had towed up to 40 cars up and down Avalon Way, and pointed to reach out the number on the flyer and the Avalon Paving Outreach email.

Lincoln Towing is still charging me $230 to get the car, which I will also have to Uber to.

Via Twitter, another resident expressed concern about people risking exposure by having to go get their towed car. Twice now, as we’ve reported, Mayor Durkan has announced some parking rules have been lifted because of COVID-19, and the online SDOT policy says towing is to be limited too. So we have an inquiry out to the mayor’s office and SDOT, seeking comment about what happened on Avalon today.

36 Replies to "'Stay home' - unless you need to get your car at the tow yard: What happened on Avalon"

  • ACG April 7, 2020 (5:23 pm)

    Please be aware the parking in the ferry line up lane on Fauntleroy in front of Lincoln Park during the posted “no parking” times WILL get you a ticket still. I saw a traffic cop out yesterday afternoon ticketing a whole string of unattended vehicles. DO NOT PARK there while you are visiting Lincoln Park in the afternoons!!  

  • sam-c April 7, 2020 (5:38 pm)

    That’s infuriating. What a disruption for these people! More notice, in these times, would definitely be expected as a common courtesy, but maybe SDOT doesn’t have that.

  • flimflam April 7, 2020 (5:52 pm)

    ahh, good ol’ Lincoln Towing, essential and beloved business for so, so long.

  • Mj April 7, 2020 (5:55 pm)

    I rode up Avalon the last several days and the no parking was well marked.  

    • Tsurly April 7, 2020 (7:25 pm)

      Agreed. I saw SDOT out there early Saturday afternoon lining the street with No Parking signs.

      • WSB April 7, 2020 (7:56 pm)

        Saturday afternoon? They may not have met the full three-day notice, then.

        • Tsurly April 7, 2020 (9:06 pm)

          Thats right. I was heading up (south) around 2 PM and they were putting sign on the other side.

        • chemist April 7, 2020 (9:34 pm)

          The No-Parking easels, including the printed public notice, should be placed 72 hours in advance. However, Parking Enforcement only requires a 24 hour notice in order to enforce the No-Parking area.

          Another one of those “should” with exceptions for 24 hr minimum notice (and even less in emergencies IIRC).  

          • WSB April 7, 2020 (10:03 pm)

            Higher up the page: “Contact a barricade company (use search term “barricades Seattle”) to arrange for “No Parking” easels to be placed three days in advance of the date(s) the zone is needed.” But if you have time, go find the SMC that applies. The whole point here is, at the very least, it’s not a good look, as the kids say – in multiple ways.

          • chemist April 8, 2020 (12:45 am)

            Yeah, plebs like you or I who would rent barricades are notified to rent for 3 days ahead of the closure.  The companies that do enough projects to own barricades are entrusted to place barricades, print the paper permits, and then call SPD when they need it enforced.  They can get away with as little as 24 hrs.  A lot of folks have had that issue with construction companies and their self-posted barricades.   Kiro story about 2 hrs notice and SPD refunding and a reddit post where Seattle_PD suggests contacting SDOT about their parking sign program and issues.

    • West Seattle since 1979 April 8, 2020 (12:40 am)

      If people were, say, laid off or working from home, and didn’t have to get groceries or other necessities, they may not have been out to see the signs.  It just seems like under emergency conditions like this pandemic is, SDOT could be a little more understanding and forgiving.    

  • Mike April 7, 2020 (5:56 pm)

    Common sense would dictate that there’s a problem if that many folks left their cars out, and amid a pandemic where there are a multiplicity of public messages about parking rules being suspended, etc.  Looks to me like the tow and impound fees come out of the project budget.

  • Fauntleroy45 April 7, 2020 (6:08 pm)

    We are witnessing uber dropping people off at the urgent care, this towing seems unnecessary given the risks

  • Mary April 7, 2020 (6:24 pm)

    That is total BS my nephew was using  his moms car and she lives out of state and now he cannot even get the car out of the towing area little lone  pay for $230 for a car that was towed when he never saw any signs.  And on top of the fee they add a storage fee daily!  When your ordered to stay at home , how come someone be liable ? .. In these times this towing company should be ashamed of themselves. I hope they go out of business I will never use them ever !!  Is this essential to go get a car out of the towing company when it’s none of your fault. Bad bad bad

  • Captain April 7, 2020 (6:29 pm)

    Definitely something wrong here.  2 to 5 cars being towed maybe.  30  to 40?  Clearly people didn’t get the notice.  Lincoln Towing must have had every truck they have out there towing cars as fast as they could.  Maybe i should call them the next time there is an abandoned car in front of my house.

    • sam-c April 7, 2020 (6:42 pm)

      The article mentions ~ up to 20 cars.  Did you hear the 30 to 40 cars from another source?

      • WSB April 7, 2020 (8:04 pm)

        The reader report says they were told ~40. What I heard (in an informal scanner exchange) was ~20. I’d like to be able to find out for sure but that would take a long time (months-long PDR, potentally) and I wasn’t going to hold this to wait for that, even if all this does is warn people away from parking there tonight (which would be difficult because, we saw on a drive a little while ago, the signage is now squarely in the middle of the parking “lane”).

  • KBear April 7, 2020 (7:09 pm)

    And yet… People complain incessantly about the slow progress of this project. They can’t work when parked cars are in the way. Storage of private automobiles is the lowest possible use of a public right-of-way. 

    • Jenny April 7, 2020 (8:09 pm)

      Regardless, the car owners still have a right to sufficient notice.

  • AMD April 7, 2020 (7:19 pm)

    I would be interested to see a comparison to haw many cars were towed each of the prior times they closed parking on this stretch of road for this project.  Did the 20+ not seem like a big deal to the workers because that many were towed each time?  Or is this exceptional in its scope?

    • Janelle April 7, 2020 (8:40 pm)


      Yes would be interesting to know. It sounds like a high number to me.

      It would make sense with people hunkering down and staying home, that many may not have had the usual opportunities to see signage put up within a few days.

      Regardless of all the factors, this really sucks for these people, especially with everything happening right now… oy :(

  • patty carpenter April 7, 2020 (7:34 pm)

    This is so wrong in so many ways.   In a time of quarantine of a deadly virus, you risk human lives.  This is so upsetting.Come on West Seattle make this right 

  • 22blades April 7, 2020 (7:49 pm)

    An issue that I’ve seen more than once is that the No Parking Signs being posted with very little time to the time it goes into effect. I had a multi-day closure posted in front of my house less than a day away (the evening before closure). On two occasions the cases were a contractor for PSE. Seems the signs should be posted to correspond to the 72 hour parking window so we have time to plan.

  • patty carpenter April 7, 2020 (7:50 pm)

    They towed 50 cars in total

  • TM April 7, 2020 (7:57 pm)

    Cash grab

  • Kalo April 7, 2020 (9:51 pm)

    Many years ago I worked at the Stan Sayers Hydro Pits for Seafair. I parked my car on Genesse St. at about 5am. The city came along sometime after, put up No Parking signs and towed a bunch of our cars away. I took the matter to court and was reimbursed for the ticket, but the courts could not refund the towing fees. I hope these poor folks get reimbursed for everything. 

  • Chrystal April 8, 2020 (7:35 am)

    Mayor Durkan, SDOT, Lincoln Towing, Avalon Paving: Shame Shame Shame

  • Joan April 8, 2020 (7:54 am)

    $230 is more than excessive.

  • anonyme April 8, 2020 (8:01 am)

    I’ve personally witnessed SDOT placing such signs well less than 24 hours before the start time of a restriction (sometimes even immediately before) never mind 72 hours.  Since vehicles are allowed to be on the street for 72 hours legally, I don’t see how or why enforcement should be allowed for less time than that.  Normally I’m not pro-car anything, but fair is fair.  There are always a few scofflaws, but the fact that so many vehicles were affected is a clear indication that insufficient notice was given.  Class action, anyone?

  • CEB April 8, 2020 (9:51 am)

    My car was one of those towed and I am furious for so many reasons. First of all, SDOT has changed their rules during the coronavirus crisis including suspending the 72 hour rule and also limiting “towing to situations which create safety hazards, block access, or create other major issues” (https://sdotblog.seattle.gov/2020/03/31/temporary-changes-to-parking-regulations-remain-in-effect-until-further-notice/). This situtation does not seem legitimate under these new rules. Also, with Stay Home, Stay Healthy in effect it is totally unethical to give this little notice, with no notice by mail or on people’s doors. I have been quarantined in my house and have literally not been out to the street since the signs were put up and I don’t know how I possibly could have known that I should be going out to check.  What if I were confirmed with COVID19 and isolating in my home? I wouldn’t be able to get my car. What if I needed my car today to take care of myself or others or take someone to the hospital? Also I am a freelancer, currently out of work, and by the time I am able to get my car out of impound today I will have to pay $300. I don’t have the money for this, and as if this time wasn’t stressful enough already. I consider this to be a big mistake and highly unethical on the part of everyone involved in these towings and I will be doing whatever I can to fight back on this issue. 

    • ccarp1234 April 8, 2020 (10:53 am)

      I was as well!! I emailed Lisa Herbold WS council member. I had submitted a formal complaint to SDOT. Through Seattle customer affairs 206-684-2489. I’m calling as many departments as i can. Good Luck!!!

      • WSB April 8, 2020 (11:11 am)

        Please let us know if anyone hears anything back. I requested comment from the mayor and or SDOT as well as the media liaison for the city’s overall COVID-19 response, and cc’d CM Herbold’s office, and to date they remain the only ones to acknowledge.

  • Mike W April 8, 2020 (1:05 pm)

    I agree.   Just witnesssed tickets being given out on a non essential street Hudson off 42nd where zone 35 signs were placed recently just for extra income for the city!  The 2 hour parking made no sense in the first place, but now  people are sheltered in place yet cannot even park on non traffic streets.  This is ridiculous!  

  • CEB April 8, 2020 (1:50 pm)

    UPDATE: Good news! I just got my car back and the lady at the tow yard said that “a complaint has been made” and the city has instructed them to return remaining vehicles from this incident to Avalon this evening. If you have already picked up your car and paid the fees, you are supposed to call the City of Seattle and they will issue reimbursement. For anyone who hasn’t gotten their car back yet, I would recommend calling lincoln towing and/or the city just to confirm this is all true. I have not called to get reimbursed yet, but I’m glad to hear it probably won’t be a big fight to get that money back. What a giant mess!

  • Liz April 11, 2020 (10:02 am)

    Same thing happened to me , I live in LA and a bunch of cars were towed including mine because the city decides to pave the street and not notify residents properly . Cost me 300$ to get my car plus a citation of 70$ I doubt I’ll get reimbursed! I did file for a hearing

Sorry, comment time is over.