Seattle council votes to move parking enforcement away from SPD

Aug 17, 2021, 6:48 AM | Updated: 11:04 am
Seattle parking enforcement, SPD...
A Seattle parking enforcement officer. (City of Seattle)
(City of Seattle)

The Seattle City Council voted 7-0 on Monday to move the city’s parking enforcement officers out of the police department and into the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).

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This marks the latest move from city leaders to “reimagine” the structure of Seattle law enforcement. While the council and mayor’s office have clashed frequently over police reform in the last year, both parties have been aligned on this proposal since it first surfaced.

In practice, it will move just over 100 parking enforcement officers out from SPD’s purview, and place them under the control of SDOT.

It also comes after months of delays brought on by a disagreement between the parking enforcement officer union and the union representing their managers.

Those delays date back to late May, when city council approved the transfer of 911 operations away from SPD and into the nascent civilian-controlled Community Safety and Communications Center (CSCC). The council passed an ordinance to create the CSCC last November, and established what it hoped would be its two primary functions: 911 dispatch for SPD, and parking enforcement. The ordinance mandated that both be moved out of SPD by June 1.

While parking enforcement officers had hoped to play a bigger role in the city’s efforts to civilianize public safety within the CSCC, their managers preferred a move to SDOT (as did Mayor Jenny Durkan, several councilmembers, and SDOT itself). City council ultimately opted to delay moving parking enforcement until Sept. 1 to give the two parties time to negotiate, enacting a proviso allowing them to be paid under SPD’s budget in the interim period.

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But without an agreement from either side in the months that followed — and with the pay proviso expiring soon — councilmembers said it was time to act, deciding “that a potentially expanded role for parking enforcement officers in traffic safety best aligns with the Seattle Department of Transportation’s mission and existing operations.”

“Unfortunately, this extra time did not really have an outcome of a different result,” Council Public Safety Chair Lisa Herbold said Monday.

Parking enforcement’s shift to SDOT will take effect 30 days after getting signed into law by Mayor Durkan.

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Seattle council votes to move parking enforcement away from SPD