Seattle ‘reviewing’ recently-reinstated 72-hour parking enforcement policy

Sep 23, 2021, 2:59 PM
72 hour parking enforcement...
RVs parked in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood. (MyNorthwest photo)
(MyNorthwest photo)

The City of Seattle could soon be considering changes to its 72-hour parking enforcement policy for the second time, after it was reinstated in early April.

Sawant calls on city to extend moratorium on ‘catastrophic’ 72-hour parking rule

The city had first suspended the policy in April of 2020, while halting most cases of booting and towing vehicles, with leaders citing a goal to “better meet our community’s needs” at the start of the pandemic, especially as people were largely staying at home.

It was brought back a year later, spurring renewed criticism from local activists, who claim the 72-hour parking limit unfairly targets those who live in RVs and other vehicles. Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant also issued a letter to Mayor Jenny Durkan, saying that she was “horrified” to hear that the city would be resuming enforcement of a policy she says “criminalizes people for being poor and lacking affordable housing.”

Some neighborhood businesses and residents, though, have defended the policy, complaining of garbage, crime, and other waste they say is directly caused by RVs parked on streets for days or weeks at a time.

Mayor Jenny Durkan justified the reinstatement of the ordinance at a time when COVID-19 cases appeared to be waning, stating that it was “intended to encourage transit use, lessen dependence on single occupancy vehicles and maintain the potential for a street to be cleared of vehicles for a variety of reasons.”

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With the delta variant fueling all-time highs in COVID cases and hospitalizations, though, the Seattle Department of Transportation says that it may be taking a second look at how to handle the policy moving forward.

“The City of Seattle is currently reviewing 72-hour enforcement procedures in light of current state guidelines,” SDOT said in a written statement. “We are working to develop an approach to enforcement that balances the reality of changing travel patterns and current needs as public health guidelines continue to change due to the delta variant.”

As of publishing, Seattle’s traffic code does not allow any vehicle to be parked on a city street for more than 72 hours at a time, regardless of posted signage. Violators are subject to a citation and could have their vehicle towed and impounded.

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Seattle ‘reviewing’ recently-reinstated 72-hour parking enforcement policy