Ursula sounds off on ‘fiasco’ of Seattle’s voided parking tickets

Jun 8, 2022, 1:51 PM


Starting Jan. 30, late fees will resume on all tickets past due, after being suspended in March 2020 for the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by David L. Ryan via Getty Images)

(Photo by David L. Ryan via Getty Images)

The City of Seattle announced it has nullified approximately 100,000 parking tickets and refunded another 100,000 already paid. The voided parking tickets were issued between September 1, 2021 and April 5, 2022.

Refunds to those impacted are set to begin this week.

The refunds stem from when the city transitioned Parking Enforcement Officers from the Seattle Police Department (SPD) to the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). The city missed a crucial step to authorize Parking Enforcement Officers (PEO) to issue tickets.

City of Seattle to dismiss and refund approximately 200,000 parking tickets

“This was a huge oversight, and it was in this whole push to defund the police. What essentially ended up happening is they just shuffled a few positions and maybe cut 17%,” Ursula Reutin said on the Gee and Ursula Show on KIRO Newsradio. “It was just this performative thing that we now find out. And a lot of it is because Mayor Harold’s administration inherited this mess and found out that this transition happened, and the officers never got special permission to do traffic enforcement now that they’re under a non-law enforcement agency under the Seattle Department of Transportation. When we had Mayor Harrell on our show, he said, I don’t really understand why it’s there.”

The refunds will cost the city approximately 4.5 to 5 million dollars, according to a spokesperson for Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office.

“And this whole thing, again, I want to just say, this was performative,” Ursula said. “This was to show, at the height of the crisis, when everything was going on, that the city council, and then-Mayor Jenny Durkin, were like, ‘ok, we’ll do anything that you ask us to do.'”

Prior to September 1, 2021, PEOs were housed within the 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 SDOT.

“And they were able to say, ‘see, we don’t spend as much on police,” Ursula continued. “No, you just moved them, and now it’s actually going to end up costing us more probably because of your stupid mistake. I’m almost going to bet that parking enforcement ends up going back to SPD.”

On top of the wrongly-issued parking tickets, the same Seattle parking enforcement officers had more than 10,000 cars towed, according to Lincoln Towing.

“And they also auctioned off some of these cars, maybe 1,700 of them?” Ursula said. “Well, if your car was one that was towed or sold, what are you going to do now? Finding out that you got these tickets and your car was towed by and the parking enforcement officers didn’t have the authority to do so, what are you going to do?”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ursula sounds off on ‘fiasco’ of Seattle’s voided parking tickets