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No parking, tow, West Seattle
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Seattle tows cars of a dozen residents sheltering in homes

A no parking sign in a West Seattle neighborhood. (Jenette Warne, KIRO Radio)

With Washington state under a stay-at-home order, why did the City of Seattle tow the cars of a dozen residents?

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I received a text from one of our co-workers who lives in West Seattle saying the neighborhood was in a complete uproar. There were reports through the neighborhood grapevine that a number of cars had been towed along Southwest Avalon Way. That’s where the city has been installing a new protected bike lane and transit-only lanes over the last year. This construction project is still going, despite the nearly statewide ban on construction.

The cars were towed to make room for workers, and West Seattle residents were incensed. Why was the city impounding and towing cars when parking is now free and time limits are not being enforced and people are doing the right thing by sheltering in their homes? That was the overarching feeling from neighbors.

The city is required to give 72 hours notice for temporary no-parking actions like this, and that actually happened in this case. The city put up those small sandwich board signs along the parked cars and only started towing after the time had expired.

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But here’s the problem: Most of the car owners had parked and stayed in their homes. They were not out and about to see that signs had been put up, and no other notice was given. The first any of them had heard about the “no parking” warning was after their cars were towed.

The City says 12 cars in total were towed. The West Seattle Blog reported the towing fees were over $200. The city will reimburse the fines of those who already paid to get their cars back. Those that couldn’t pay will have their cars returned to the neighborhood at no cost.

This project will continue on Monday, and everyone should know about the parking restrictions there by now. That will be in effect along Avalon Way for the rest of the next week.

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