Seattle business owner faces $550,000 in fines over one parking spot

Mar 21, 2018, 2:09 PM

Jodi Opitz owns and runs Seattle Rehearsal, a 31-studio practice space for musicians that is open 24/7. People come and go at all hours, moving large pieces of equipment.

But Seattle authorities are challenging her 28-year-old business. And Opitz is fighting back.

“It’s so circular and it’s so easily fixable. We could fix this in a day,” she told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. ““They say, ‘Nope, you’re controlling traffic.’ I say I am controlling reasonable and reliable access to my building.”

RELATED: Curb squatting in Seattle with fake “no parking” signs

Seattle Rehearsal is on Occidental Avenue in the SoDo neighborhood. It has one loading dock. The Seattle Department of Transportation has lined the street with one-hour parking signs, including the spot in front of the loading dock. But Opitz placed a “no parking” sign on the garage door of the dock. She needs the space for musicians to come and go with equipment.

“Pretty large row cases that can weigh hundreds of pounds,” she said. “We can’t get them into the building if there are cars inside our loading dock. So apparently, starting from the 1950s, the previous owner had towing signs up as well. We’ve always kept the public out of these areas. It’s an abutting property because they used to run railroad cars through there. The first 15 feet off the building was given to the railroad for usage in 1910 by the city council. That’s why we have buildings built in this fashion.”

But the area has evolved since then. Crosscut reports that SDOT considers Opitz’s “no parking” sign a nuisance and is ordering her to take it down. Opitz has defied the city for nine years. The city has charged her $500 a day as a result — for three years. The fines have totaled nearly $550,000. She has challenged the city in court. A municipal court judge ruled in favor of the city. That decision is being appealed.

“We are waiting for the type of court that is more familiar with Constitutional arguments,” Opitz said. “The last judge, her parting comment was, ‘Your businesses hours seem a bit excessive.’ So there is clearly a disconnect in understanding the problem.”

“We have a new mayor, we are little bit hopeful she will be able to do something here,” she said.

Opitz, Seattle businesses, and parking

Opitz said that the original lawsuit against the city named two other businesses. Unlike those businesses, Opitz owns her building. The landlords told those two businesses to drop out of the lawsuit and comply with the city. One of those shops has since left SoDo after 26 years in the area. The building has sat empty for more than a year, Opitz said.

“I went through the process of hiring a forensic accountant,” Opitz said. “If I can’t depend on reliable access to my building, how long would it take for me to be out of business? And it was about two years. And I’m open 24/7. This is not a problem unique to me. I’ve surveyed and identified 45 other buildings and businesses in the same predicament. I’m just the only one open 24/7, and the only one who owns my building. We’ve got other people who want to be in this fight, but the landlords won’t allow them.”

“If I’m held to the fees, I’m out of business faster than that,” she said. “I thought I would at least put up a fight.”

Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dori monsonTune in to KIRO Radio weekdays at 12 noon for The Dori Monson Show.

Dori Monson Show

Dori Monson

Seattle lawyer...
Dori Monson

Dori exclusive: Seattle lawyer once investigated in rapist husband’s case now a local judge

The wife of a Seattle lawyer convicted in five separate attacks a decade ago is now a sitting municipal court judge in Lake Forest Park.
1 day ago
ethnic studies...
Dori Monson

Dori: Upcoming book reveals ‘toxic liar’ led Seattle schools’ ethnic studies program

“Race to the Bottom: Uncovering the Secret Forces Destroying American Public Education” is a shocking expose that will come as a surprise to many.
2 days ago
vaccinated students...
Dori Monson

Dori: Oops! Maple Valley school pulls back on ‘VIP’ list for vaccinated students

After “VIP seating” that came with “an added privilege” for COVID-vaccinated students, the Maple Valley school has reversed its decision.
2 days ago
state capitol, House, anti-gun bills...
Dori Monson

Dori: Keep an eye on scores of anti-gun bills in Olympia

State lawmakers consider nearly 30 anti-gun bills, some of which attempt to bypass a statute that preserves uniform gun laws in the state.
3 days ago
Crime, hit and run...
Dori Monson

Dori: Soft on crime policies from state Democrats have tragic consequences

Washington state Democrats in the Legislature have made it open season for car thefts and the tragic consequences that can ensue.
3 days ago
Inslee, climate, vaccine requirements, election fraud...
Dori Monson Show

Gov. Inslee could be in ‘early stages of another presidential run,’ political watchdog theorizes

Gov. Jay Inslee is giving a political watchdog reason to believe he is considering a bid for the 2024 U.S. presidential election.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
Seattle business owner faces $550,000 in fines over one parking spot