Please, Drive Your Car Regularly

Carrie writes:

I wanted to give you the heads up about parking tickets and infractions in our little neighborhood.

My fiance and I live on 43rd & Stone, have 2 cars, and always park on the street. Because we both work downtown, we either carpool or take public transportation. This past week we noticed a few orange stickers on the windshields of cars parked in that area. On Thursday, my fiance’s car (and the one we drive less frequently) had one of these orange stickers on the windshield and a parking ticket (for $39) placed on the dash.

Turns out there is a city statute that prevents cars for being parked in one location for more than 72 hours.

Needless to say we are doing what we can to have the fine reduced, but isn’t it ridiculous to require people to drive their cars a set number of times a week? Besides, we were parked in front of our place!

Anyways, a few other cars have similar stickers as of this morning and we thought people should know that taking the bus is only okay every other day. Otherwise, drive that tank to work!

This surprised us. We knew about the 72 hours law, but we’ve only ever heard of it being enforced when someone complains, or if street sweeping or construction requires a move.

  1. entropy's bitch said,

    Well, no. It’s a good thing because otherwise people dump their cars and they become nuisances. I have seen cars sitting for months collecting leaves, rodents and god knows what. Additionally, street parking is PUBLIC parking. Because it’s in front of your house does not mean you have a right to it.
    If you don’t use your cars very much, sell them and use zipcar. But don’t complain if you fail to follow regulations and get tickets.

    Sun, April 4 at 1:19 pm
  2. DOUG. said,

    You don’t need to drive it to work, just move it. And be thankful you have free street parking (which I would like to see less of in Seattle).

    Sun, April 4 at 1:43 pm
  3. kerrizor said,

    ..also heads up – you can’t park in such a way that blocks a driveway or sloped ramp/access area.. even if its your own driveway.

    Sun, April 4 at 2:22 pm
  4. Luddite said,

    Managing vehicles and taking the bus are two different paradigms. Municipal Code stipulates how streets, planting strips, driveways, etc., are managed; generally the rules follow challenges and not arbitrary. For example, not blocking your or anyone’s driveway allows fire department access, and parking on planting strips can compress/damage sewer lines, gas lines. If this is a neighborhood and not a parking lot, seems like some imagination can solve the where to park and what to ride dilemma. Congrats to the greenies for being green in the first place, though how about one or no vehicle per household?

    Sun, April 4 at 3:45 pm
  5. Wallyhood said,

    I think it’s fair to complain if you get a ticket if you think the regulations aren’t fair. Heck, I’m out of town for 5 days at the moment. If I returned and found a ticket on my car, I’d be pissed.

    If the regulation is supposed to target nuisance vehicles, it seems like ticketing any vehicle parked for more than 72 hours is casting a bit of wide net. Why not just target nuisance vehicles directly?

    Sun, April 4 at 4:14 pm
  6. Carrie said,

    Thanks for the comments, all. We are planning on reducing to 1 car between the two of us, but since we both owned our cars prior to meeting/moving in together we have 2. The public parking thing also seems to impact apartment dwellers in Wallingford more than it impacts people with driveways. On my block I know most of the cars are my neighbors in apartments.

    I don’t mean to complain about the law in its entirety. I understand why it can be useful: preventing people from living in their cars, or parking (and leaving) cars that don’t operate. That said, as someone who is $39 poorer I would prefer some sort of sliding scale where people can park in their neighborhoods for free and without having to move their cars a certain number of times in a week. What happens when you go on vacation for a week?

    And yes, I realize this is a first world problem.

    Anyways, if you haven’t been moving your car previously, be aware that the police are policing this a bit more. It seems to start with one person complaining about one car, and then the police officer pays a bit more attention for a week or so. Hopefully this will help save you, or someone you know $39.

    Sun, April 4 at 4:20 pm
  7. Cathy said,

    Wel, you are whining about your own excess and your not knowing the law.
    That corner/area is a very busy space. By having 2 vehicles parked and not being used or moved YOu are creating a problem for others who use much commercial space.

    Sell one. Store one. Learn the law.

    39.00 is not that much these days.

    Whether or not th eincreased checking by the polic eis due to one or more complaints is NOT really of much importance. It sounds like you ar epretty young OR VERY involved in reflecting anger about your lack of responsibility at others. There have been several robberies and a lot of graffiti in the area. I bet the police made a wise decision to increase patrols in that area and to enforce the law. Abandoned vehicles and unmoved vehicles become junk, sometimes portals for drug dealing or homeless habitation.

    Sun, April 4 at 5:18 pm
  8. Harvey said,

    Wow Cathy… why not tell us how you really feel?

    Sun, April 4 at 5:28 pm
  9. buster g. said,

    What law of man, nature, or god establishes that we are entitled to free parkiing?

    Sun, April 4 at 5:39 pm
  10. Luddite said,

    It would be great I think if people would mention all the little and big Municipal Code and beyond things we learn as we go in this ‘hood, this city, this county, this state, this country. And of course if some seem out-of-date or in need of updating, this a great forum to start the ball rolling.

    For example, the property on the building side of the sidewalk is covered by city easement provisions for usually about 18 inches adjacent, then across the sidewalk, through the planting strip and to the middle of the street. SDOT permits are required for tree planting there, there are foliage height stipulations (to create sightlines for pedestrians, pets), no vehicle parking, hardscape limitations. (The freeway is referred to as I-5 not The I-5, and in an emergency you call for the Aid Car. Why we pay as we enter or pay as we leave the bus . . .)

    $39 is a lot to me these days . . .

    On another tack, this city gets a lot or revenue from regressive tax platforms like
    ticketing, property and sales tax. State income tax might level the playing field a bit by actually funding Seattle/Washington. The Easter Bunny whispered that in my ear . . .

    Sun, April 4 at 5:41 pm
  11. leon s. said,

    I saw this same basic question asked on the Stranger’s Questionland a while back:

    Sun, April 4 at 6:35 pm
  12. Raffaella said,

    Of course this law affects renters more than owners (no driveway, a house split up into an apartment, etc) and greenies more than drivers. Keeping a car around for when you want to pick up a big bag of dog food or go hiking in the woods but NOT for day to day driving is a reasonable thing to do…the parking ordinance is a bit strict. I’d be perfectly happy to pay a yearly permit fee for the ability to let my car stay put when I need it to. And please, please don’t use this post to complain about renters – I’m a renter and I garden, maintain my parking strip, keep a neat house, and do all the other things other good neighbors do.

    We’re all free to criticize laws we think are unjust, no harm in that! I’d be more than happy to pay for parking on the street – in a lot of neighborhoods, residents pay a yearly fee to be able to park on the street. That seems fair, but if we’re paying, we should be able to leave it there as long as we need to.

    Also – it’s great to see so many strong opinions, but it’d also be great to see a civil tone in these debates. Just because we’re not in the same room together, doesn’t mean we should abandon the basic courtesies that I’m sure we’d all be affording each other in person :)

    Sun, April 4 at 6:47 pm
  13. Burks said,

    When that # is called it says it may take up to
    3 weeks to respond. The orange sticker is a 3 day notice. Nothing is done
    unless a call is made. Don’t bother looking for chalk on your tires either. City now uses GPS to verify cars don’t move. Glad I don’t drive one.

    Sun, April 4 at 7:56 pm
  14. joe momma said,

    @ Raffaella – the RPZ sticker fee doesn’t exempt you from the 72 hour rule.

    i got the orange sticker recently. my wife was hospitalized and wasnt driving so it sat. pissed me off but F the neighbor that called it in. I try now to park in front or as close to their house as possible now.

    Sun, April 4 at 8:09 pm
  15. iyqtoo said,

    Seattle’s rapidly becoming a big city and a lot of us go there kicking and screaming. Our feelings of entitlement to free parking would make any Manhattan resident laugh. My sister paid as much per square foot to park her car as she paid for her apartment–and that was in 1970! You gotta hope we don’t reach that level of density in our neighborhood for a long time, but we do have to SHARE the resource and the laws are there for those folks who fail to understand the concept.

    It might be hard to find a Wallingford resident who thinks it’s OK for someone to drive in from Bellingham for example, park on their street and hop on a bus to the airport for a three-week trip. Suburban transplants with a half-dozen vehicles parked on the street in various stages of disrepair aren’t real popular either. We’ve experienced both situations hereabouts and both are inconsiderate and unreasonable uses of public streets.

    Neighbors in the blocks near mine know which vehicles belong to whom and we report parking violations to Parking Enforcement only in cases of egregious disrespect, usually unmowed weeds growing around the wheels! And we never go to the City as a first resort, we’ll always contact the owner first. With very rare exceptions, new renters seem to appreciate the opportunity to be a good neighbor by parking respectfully.

    On the other hand, we live a few blocks from I-5 and seem to have become a popular drop-off for stolen vehicles. Unfamiliar vehicles that stay parked in the same place on the 4th day nearly always get reported that day after asking around to see if anybody knows the owner. Frequently the vehicle has been stolen, abandoned here, and gets returned by the police to it’s rightful owner.

    But even in cases where the vehicle wasn’t abandoned and it turns out the owner just hopped the bus for a long trip, it’s very hard to feel any sympathy for them. After all, their vehicle got towed because they deliberately used our street for a free parking lot!

    Sun, April 4 at 9:03 pm
  16. Kiwi said,

    It would be nice if we had zoned parking stickers like other neighborhoods. I believe you just show proof of address to get it (probably depends on the zone whether or not you have to pay). That way cars that are parked past a certain time without a sticker would be eligible to get ticketed and residents wouldn’t have to be anxious about moving their cars all the time.

    Sun, April 4 at 9:40 pm
  17. buster g. said,

    lyqtoo writes: ” it’s very hard to feel any sympathy for [people from distant places who leave their cars on his/her street]. After all, their vehicle got towed because they deliberately used our street for a free parking lot!”

    Makes one wonder: Why is it OK for people who live on that street to use their street for a free parking lot? Part of the Bill of Rights?

    Sun, April 4 at 9:41 pm
  18. harley said,

    could this comment thread top the dog poop one as far as passion/comments go??

    wow! poop and parking!

    where’s flash’s less-domestic postings?

    Sun, April 4 at 10:00 pm
  19. Dave said,

    This law only tends to get enforced if someone calls in and complains. You got a ticket because one of your neighbors was annoyed and called it in….

    Mon, April 5 at 6:06 am
  20. bmacke said,

    I’ve noticed a lot of the orange stickers around the neighborhood, and around the city lately. So perhaps they are stepping up enforcement and/or people are reporting the offenders more.

    Mon, April 5 at 8:27 am
  21. Lauren said,

    This is really interesting. I have lived in my house on 53rd for 20 years now and I guess I have come to think of the spot in front of my house as ‘mine’. Only a handful of homes on the north side of the street have driveways and I would be pissed if I left for vacation and come home and my car had been towed! That said, I also get that it’s really a public space. I guess what it comes down to is know your neighbors and create your own urban village. We all know each others vehicles and I like to believe that we all watch out for each other. At least that’s what I do.

    Mon, April 5 at 9:32 am
  22. CindyY said,

    This is all very informative. Been wondering about a few of these things myself… whether the RPZ pass exempts you from the 72-hour rule, and whether it’s okay to block your own driveway. So thanks for answering those lingering questions for me.

    Here’s what I’d add: If you get a ticket asking you to move your car, you have to move it more than a few spaces. I can’t remember how far exactly, but a friend of mine got double ticketed from not knowing that rule.

    If you’re curious, the friend’s car was parked in front of his house. He was more surprised than pissed off about the ticket, which is probably the same reaction I would’ve had.

    Mon, April 5 at 10:42 am
  23. SeattleAlan said,

    Hi, Buster G…”Makes one wonder: Why is it OK for people who live on that street to use their street for a free parking lot? Part of the Bill of Rights?”
    It’s not in the Bill of Rights – I pay $3,000 in property taxes every 6 months that should let me park on my street…..Why do you think we have to have special permission or “law of nature, man or God” to park on the street where we live? I understand you shouldn’t have car storage (that should be done elsewhere), but your own car should be just fine. Not all of us can walk/bike/bus to work.

    Mon, April 5 at 11:16 am
  24. Luddite said,

    What if we all took all the vehicles off Wallingford north-south streets for most of one day just to see what it would look like, sound like. And walk around. On Earth Day, April 24? (And park them legally elsewhere or a legal driveway or garage.) A simple urban planning exercise to see what we are currently doing actually means.

    Mon, April 5 at 12:31 pm
  25. Mike Kale said,

    Gosh, some people feel really strongly about this! If you live in a low-density area, it’s reasonable to think that you’d be able to park near your house. If you have a business in a commercially zoned low-density street, it’s reasonable to think that your customers would be able to park near you. Certainly reasonable people can make it work for both needs.

    I wonder what the point of the law is: to discourage abandoned vehicles? To discourage permanent storage of vehicles that are only driven once every six months? To discourage people from living in their vehicles? To encourage people who don’t drive every day to find some more permanent parking place? To raise revenue for the city?

    I’m curious because for some of those purposes, 72 hours seems like an awfully short time. One, two and occasionally three (!) week vacations happen. People (whether correctly or not) are assuming that they can use the street near their house as a place to park their cars. No, people are not assuming that they “own” the spot in front of their house, or that they can leave their car there in cold storage for 8 months with no intention of using it, but that they can fit their personal car in with everyone else on the block somewhere. And driving once a week or even less frequently is a common pattern around here with so much in walking or bussing distance. To me, that’s a reasonable assumption, but what do I know? 😉

    Mon, April 5 at 1:00 pm
  26. bbb said,

    Since when can’t home owners who pay taxes use the street for parking at least one car??? And why shouldn’t we be able to go on a vacation without having to worry about our car being towed??? That said, I have neighbors who own 4 cars and there are only 2 of them! (And they added an illegal 1-car driveway!) AND one of them usually takes the bus to work. That drives me nuts, especially because, living close to the U. we get many students using our street for daily parking–With parking on only one side of the street it gets tight. I would love to have zoned parking but it would take a lot of signatures…..

    Mon, April 5 at 3:44 pm
  27. Cathy said,

    I know well the street corner.

    I knwo the graffiti problem.

    I am partly bothered by the author’s overstating, exaggerating -comments, ending with “thought people should know that taking the bus in only ok every other day”. By twisting the law in sarcasm the writer provides ‘tongue in cheek’ humor and lack of credibility.

    Mon, April 5 at 4:51 pm
  28. Kimberly C. said,

    I know from experience that you can get the parking ticket and thr orange sticker without a neighbor calling you in. The traffic officer who patrols lower Wallingford is a ver rules oreinted person and he doesn’t require any input as to whose car has been there for too long. He also has a personal vendetta against my neighbor’s tent camper.

    The city recently started a “1 ton challenge” to encourage all of us to reduce our carbon emissions by 1 ton. As part of this, I think they need to offer us the option of registering at least 1 vehicle per household as a “non-commuting” car, so that we can take the bus, light rail or vanpool without the pressure of remembering to move our cars.

    I’d also love a vacation option, but that would probably be asking for too much!

    Mon, April 5 at 5:04 pm
  29. Eric said,

    It would be better if the 3 day rule was an 8 day rule. That way people that just use the car for weekly shopping trips but not commuting wouldn’t be needlessly punished.

    Also, the rule is really just about parking space. There’s better ways to discourage automotive use in general, like having a additional taxes on multi-car families and gas guzzling vehicles.

    Combine those 2 changes at the same time and I think it would be a nice step forward for the city.

    Mon, April 5 at 5:49 pm
  30. Erica Doctor said,

    I guess I don’t see why it’s a big deal to leave your car on your street near your house for more than 72 hours. If we agree that people need cars (because some people do), and that it’s good for people to drive less (because it is), and you know the car belongs to your neighbor, who cares if it’s parked outside in one spot for a couple of days? I can see it being irritating if it’s not a neighbor, but if you know that it’s your neighbor’s car, I don’t see being irritated that they leave it for several days because they don’t need to drive it every day.

    Mon, April 5 at 6:06 pm
  31. Chris W. said,

    @Kimberly — you’re totally right about the Lower Wallingford patrol. Once they’re on a block, they check every car. Last year after the changes ito Fremont parking zoning, he came by a lot more often.

    I put in a call to the City to ask about their policies & will post back here if/when I learn anything helpful.

    Mon, April 5 at 6:08 pm
  32. Greg said,

    You can still be ticketed for the 72-hour rule or for parking too close to a driveway if you have an RPZ sticker. Some might say you are MORE likely to get a ticket because those streets are patrolled more often.

    You can sometimes get the ticket reduced or eliminated by pleading guilty and sending a note to the magistrate explaining the circumstances. Just don’t express a “right to park there” ‘tude!

    Parking beats poop for vigorous debate anytime :-)

    Mon, April 5 at 6:20 pm
  33. Brian said,

    Maybe some of the people who are using their cars once a week and keeping them parked the rest of the time could join forces with their neighbors, ditch the cars that aren’t needed, and create a homemade Zipcar program. There’s got to be a techie in the neighborhood who could design a website to help manage it.

    Mon, April 5 at 9:00 pm
  34. Trev said,

    Sense of entitlement w regards to parking. Have you read the threads here on Dogs. It is small minority I hope but you get the sense perhaps these are the same people. Dogs and Cars are really the same thing, the question is really how do you regulate it when the Population increases. Hi Harley :)

    Mon, April 5 at 10:47 pm
  35. bb said,

    I don't own a car, and use Zip car for my occasional car use.

    Personally, I'd rather fewer stored their cars on the street. It's hard to find a parking place for folks who are visiting or using the local businesses, and it can be hard to drive down streets when there is no room for cars to pass in the opposite direction. It's also a drag for pedestrians. Cars often are pulled into driveways blocking sidewalks and parked cars block sightlines making it more dangerous for pedestrians, particularly children.

    I have some sympathy for the need to be able to go on vacation occasionally, but I do think if you are only using your car once a week, you should probably re-evaluate whether you need a car or not. There are alternatives for occasional use : Zip car, taxis, rental cars. If you really value a dedicated parking spot, buy a place that has one or rent one, and leave the streets to drivers and people who need the occasional parking.

    The large number of cars make the neighborhood less kid friendly. It's complicated to explain to kids how to safely navigate through the car filled streets. My mom who lived in Seattle as a kid often tells me about the fun time she had playing on her block as a kid. All the games they played sound dangerous by modern standards because of the large of number of moving and parked cars a kids would have to deal with. When I asked her why this wasn't a concern for her, she said there were virtually no cars on the block back then (in WWII) — almost no one drove. Sounds lovely to me.

    I wish people didn't see a car as an absolute necessity, especially when they rarely use it.

    It'd also be nice if the folks who have garages would actually park their cars there, instead of keeping them filed with stuff. I think most homeowners on my block with a garage never keep their cars inside them.

    Fri, April 9 at 2:19 am
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