City of Seattle to dismiss and refund approximately 200,000 parking tickets
Today, the City of Seattle announced that it is voiding parking tickets and refunding paid parking tickets issued between September 1, 2021 and April 5, 2022, through a third-party administrator. Refunds will be returned to approximately 100,000 individuals who received and paid for parking tickets during this period.
An additional approximate 100,000 ticket recipients who have not yet paid will have their ticket voided, effective immediately.
Refunds to those impacted are set to begin the week of June 6.
To check if a ticket you received is impacted, check the city’s website.
Prior to September 1, 2021, Parking Enforcement Officers (PEOs) were housed within the Seattle Police Department (SPD). After nearly 50 years of being housed in SPD, on November 23, 2020, the City Council passed Ordinance 126233 to move PEOs to the City of Seattle Communications Center (CSCC).
Later, on July 28, 2021, the Durkan administration transmitted legislation to the City Council to instead transfer PEOs to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT).
On August 16, 2021, Council Bill 120148 was passed unanimously by the City Council and signed on August 18, 2021, officially moving PEOs from SPD to SDOT. Council intended special commissions to be issued for city employees who were not within SPD to enforce certain aspects of the traffic code. Special commissions are issued by the Chief of Police to personnel who perform law enforcement responsibilities outside of SPD.
This technical step was not taken immediately upon PEOs’ relocation to SDOT in 2021.
Upon learning that these special commissions had not been properly issued, the Harrell administration issued a directive to SPD and SDOT to complete the commissions. Completed commissions for all PEOs were delivered by April 5th. Parking tickets issued after April 5 are consistent with the city’s ordinance and are unaffected by this action.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Seattle Municipal Court suspended certain actions related to unpaid parking tickets, including those issued between September 1, 2021 and April 5, 2022. The Municipal Court also suspended any credit card fees for individuals that paid their tickets via credit card. For those that contested their parking citations, all hearings occurred telephonically or remotely with the assigned magistrate. Furthermore, the Municipal Court did not report or send unpaid tickets to collections during the COVID-19 emergency period, which remains in effect.
The City has been working to remedy tickets and fines issued during the non-commissioned period. The City retained a third-party administrator to support its efforts to issue refunds as appropriate and provide customer support. As a result, no action is necessary for affected individuals to receive a refund. The City has also established a website with more information for those with tickets or who may have received tickets during this period. The City is continuing to review and confirm actions taken by City staff and PEOs during the relevant time period.
Individuals unsure of whether a parking ticket they received qualifies for refund or dismissal can visit the city’s website to search by license plate number or citation.