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‘Curb squatting’ in Seattle with fake ‘no parking’ signs

Jason Schumacher came across this no parking sign and immediately questioned its authenticity. (Jason Schumacher)

After finding a fake “no parking” sign in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood, a driver discovered that this ploy was not an isolated incident and that others are “curb squatting” around town.

Jason Schumacher recently found hunting for a parking spot in Fremont to be no easy task and noticed one spot “conspicuously empty.” It turns out there was a “no parking” sign deterring drivers from the space. But after taking a closer look, Schumacher found it to be a case of what he calls “curb squatting.”

“I was a little nervous parking in the spot because the sign resembles a legitimately posted sign,” Schumacher said. “With that said, given it’s on a concrete-footed post, doesn’t have any contact info, and has a light threat about towing, the sign didn’t appear to be something the city would use.”

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Sgt. Sean Whitcomb with the Seattle Police Department confirms that it’s not something the city would use — mocked up with a cement block as its base, a wooden post and lettering that does not match other “no parking” signage common around Seattle.

“I would just say that only the city has the authority to place signage restricting parking,” Whitcomb said. “The sign in the photo is not an official city sign. People should ignore it and adhere to existing signage and parking rules.”

Curious about its validity, Schumacher initially posted a photo of the suspicious sign to Reddit. Soon, others on Reddit were reporting similar sightings elsewhere in Seattle, such as Green Lake.

“The reason I threw the sign up on Reddit was to test my gut; check of it being a fake sign, and also to see whether people had resources for combating this type of ‘curb squatting,'” Schumacher said. “I live in Ballard, which over the past year has become notorious for the construction ‘no parking signs’ that don’t feature valid permits, (they) are set up without advance notice, and the like. Anecdotally, it seems like people are feeling increasingly entitled to stake a claim to public property and deny its legitimate use to others.”

The SPD recommends reporting suspicious “no parking” signs to the Seattle Department of Transportation’s signage department at 206-684-7623. SPD also recommends using the “Find It, Fix It” app available to smartphone users. Seattle residents can use it to report problems around town.

There’s also the city’s online reporting system, or SPD’s non-emergency line at 206-625-5011.

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