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  1. #1

    Default Ticket for Parking Too Close to a Driveway

    My question involves a traffic ticket from the state of: Washington

    I live in the city of Seattle, and my question pertains to a parking violation I received for parking within 5 feet of a driveway. I was parked on the Northern side of a "No Parking South" sign. The sign is about 15 feet from the edge of a driveway turn, leaving only about 10 feet for legal parking. Myself and many of my neighbors have been parking in this spot on a regular basis for at least the last 3 years (since I've lived in this house), and have never seen or heard of a single issue form either parking enforcement or the residents of the house attached to the driveway. Last weekend, new tenants moved in to the house attached to this driveway, and they wanted to park their moving truck where my car was parked, so they called parking enforcement and insisted that my car be towed because it was within 5 feet of their driveway. I was parked so that my bumper was probably 2-3 feet from the driveway turn. While the driveway is far too narrow for a car to actually fit (these new neighbors confirmed to me that they have no intention of actually using the driveway), and I recognize now that I broke the law, these new neighbors are now regularly parking their car completely blocking their own driveway, and preventing anyone from using the public parking area to the south, between the "No Parking" sign and their driveway. They also are intending to discourage others from parking in front of their house by threatening to tow any cars parked there.

    This is obviously an unfortunate situation, with new neighbors behaving in a way that I believe is unfair, selfish, and disrespectful. There are many driveways up and down the block (including in front of my own home), and I have never seen or considered having anyone towed for parking within 5 feet of a driveway. This neighborhood is densely populated, public parking is difficult to find for all residents, and it is common courtesy to not have neighbors towed for breaking the exact same parking laws that you plan to break with your own car.

    Firstly, do I have any legal recourse for the parking citation that I received? Or is there any way to recoup the cost of towing? I know there are some laws related to selective enforcement, but it's unclear how they might apply to this situation. Ultimately, I'm a graduate student on a very limited budget, and the cost of this ordeal represents about 35% of my monthly income, after deducting the cost of rent, so I'm very motivated to do what I can to recover this cost!

    Secondly, is it legal for my neighbor to park in the way they are currently parking? They seem to be using their "driveway" as a way to claim their own private space in a public parking zone. I spoke with parking enforcement on the phone, and they told me that they would enforce the law if I wanted to make a complaint. I'd rather not do this, because I believe it's spiteful and vindictive, and I don't want to escalate this dispute. When I explained this to my neighbors, they claimed that they had also spoken to a parking enforcement officer who told them that if they put a sign on their windshield stating that they were blocking their own driveway then they would not receive a citation or be towed. My understanding of the way the law is written is that NO PERSON, regardless of property ownership, is entitled to park blocking a driveway.

    Seattle Municipal Code 11.72.110 - Driveway or alley entrance
    "No person shall stand or park a vehicle in front of a public or private driveway within a street or alley or in front of or in an alley entrance or within five feet (5') of the end of a constructed driveway return or alley entrance return, or if none, within five feet (5') of the projection of the edge of the driveway or alley."

    https://www.seattle.gov/transportati...veway-markings

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Seattle Parking Law: Request for Guidance

    Were you asked by them to move your car prior to it getting towed? If you were asked, you should have moved it out of common courtesy. If you weren't asked, they were technically allowed by the ordinance to call the authorities.

    Can your neighbors vehicle (s) fit legally in their driveway without hanging over the sidewalk?

    Can you park in your driveway? (Strike that if you live in a nearby apartment or are renting a room of a house).


    I believe in the spirit of the law on parking issues, especially when it comes to blocking driveways. The law (or ordinance) is designed to prevent issues for someone who is parked in their driveway from being blocked in by someone else's vehicle. If I run a plate for a car blocking a driveway and it comes back registered to the driveway it's blocking I move on. It's their driveway they are blocking. No one else can park their either because then they would block the persons driveway, so what's the issue with them parking and blocking their own driveway if they want to? (Spite?)

    The curb directly in front of their house is public property and anyone is allowed to park there (with in the given restrictions). The homeowner nor the authorities can do anything about a legally parked vehicle parked on public property. Its a common misconception by homeowners thinking that street parking in front of their house is theirs and theirs only. Your neighbor is wrong on this point.

    It sounds like your neighbors are unreasonable when you approach them with parking issues. This is likely not going to change. Save yourself the grief and try to find public parking somewhere else or within the law. Perhaps marking the curb with curb paint to indicate 5' would be helpful.

    Good luck on your issue and your studies.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Seattle Parking Law: Request for Guidance

    By the way, nothing prevents you from contesting the parking situation and tow. The way to contest should be on the back of the ticket or you can call the phone number listed on the front.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Seattle Parking Law: Request for Guidance

    Quote Quoting sniper
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    Were you asked by them to move your car prior to it getting towed?
    They left a note on my windshield, and told me it was some time in the morning. My car was towed in the afternoon around 3pm. I was out of town on a hike all day until around 5pm.

    Quote Quoting sniper
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    Can your neighbors vehicle (s) fit legally in their driveway without hanging over the sidewalk?
    The driveway is too narrow for a car to fit in, so they don't actually use the driveway at all. The driveway is subterranean, and is around 5 feet wide with built up concrete walls on either side.

    Quote Quoting sniper
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    Can you park in your driveway? (Strike that if you live in a nearby apartment or are renting a room of a house).
    I live in a house that's been converted into an apartment complex, and there are multiple parking spots in the back that the driveway accesses. My partner uses the parking spot that's reserved for our apartment.


    Quote Quoting sniper
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    No one else can park their either because then they would block the persons driveway, so what's the issue with them parking and blocking their own driveway if they want to? (Spite?)
    The personal issue I have with it is that they had my car towed for breaking the same law that they are currently breaking. The practical and legal issue I have with it is that they are taking advantage of the law in order to reserve a public parking space for their exclusive use.

    Quote Quoting sniper
    View Post
    It sounds like your neighbors are unreasonable when you approach them with parking issues. This is likely not going to change. Save yourself the grief and try to find public parking somewhere else or within the law. Perhaps marking the curb with curb paint to indicate 5' would be helpful.
    It has been painted for a long time, and I won't be parking in that area in the future. I agree, it's not worth the trouble.

    Quote Quoting sniper
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    Good luck on your issue and your studies.
    Thank you! And thanks for your consideration and advice.

    Quote Quoting EJay
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    You do not need to worry about being towed from public property without notice unless your vehicle constitutes an obstruction to traffic or jeopardizes public safety or falls under one of the other limited circumstances an officer can request a tow.
    What constitutes "notice"? They left a note on the windshield of my car at some point during the day on Sunday, and I was towed around 3pm. I was out of town for most of the day on Sunday, so I never saw the note.

    Quote Quoting EJay
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    My recommendation is to try and work it out with your neighbor. Is there anyway they could park in their driveway and you park on the street as far away from the driveway entrance as possible? If not you may need to park down the street.
    They can not park in their driveway because it is too narrow to accommodate a car. I parked as far away from the driveway without passing the "No Parking" sign that is just to the south of their driveway. You can see how they parked their car in the pictures in this album: https://imgur.com/a/YtadVVc. You can also see how narrow the space between the no parking sign and their driveway is.

    Quote Quoting sniper
    View Post
    By the way, nothing prevents you from contesting the parking situation and tow. The way to contest should be on the back of the ticket or you can call the phone number listed on the front.
    On what grounds would you recommend I contest the parking citation and tow? EJay mentioned that being within 5 feet of a driveway is not grounds for a tow. Is that a valid reason?

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Seattle Parking Law: Request for Guidance

    Did the city cite an impound authority either pursuant to the city municipal code or state law? About all I could see might be an argument that your vehicle was parked so that it might impede the flow of "traffic" (though that argument might be tough given these definitions in the RCW and the muni code).
    **********
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  6. #6
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    Default Re: Seattle Parking Law: Request for Guidance

    I saw that one, that's why I was wondering if they cited another one. I can't imagine that the city parking enforcement folks would be so dumb as to tow something in under 24 hours when the law clearly required 24 hours notice. However, being parked in a driveway may fall under some other section. After all, it would not make sense for someone to be able to block a driveway with impunity! I suspect there is some section - or a local interpretation of the standard non-notice code section - that is frequently used to tow cars blocking driveways (or in violation of the 5' rule).

    At this point, all he can really do is contest the citation and the tow and see what happens.
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Seattle Parking Law: Request for Guidance

    Regardless of what the neighbors do that may be illegal, since you admit to being parked closer than 5 feet from their driveway return, the ticket is valid. If the placement of your vehicle prevented them from turning into their drive, I suspect there is an allowance that would allow such an aggrieved resident to have the offending vehicle removed. I do not know of any applicable code/ordinances that would allow it but it wouldn’t surprise me to see an ordinance allowing it due to blocking their access. Yes, I know, you argue their drive is too narrow to use. That doesn’t really matter unless any applicable code/ordinance provided an exception for narrow driveways.

    Since you have stated there is not actually room to legally park a car in the space you were within, the neighbors are not preventing anybody from parking there; the law is.

    If you believe the neighbkrs are breaking rhe law, call and report them. If they are not ticketed, don’t get too upset. The police are not mandated to issue a ticket and they may very well do as sniper describes which is to not issue tickets to cars blocking their own drive. If I was a cop I would consider the small area you were parked in in that space.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Seattle Parking Law: Request for Guidance

    For those who have asked, I'll be able to share the specifics from the citation when I'm home later today. I don't have it with me at the moment.

    Per your points, jk, I wonder if there is a case to be made regarding whether or not their driveway was actually blocked? I know that I was no closer than 1 foot within the turn of the driveway, and don't believe I was closer than 2 feet. I also know that the complainants were motivated to pressure the officer to have the car towed because they wanted to use the space on the public street to park their own moving truck. In fact, they told me that they did exactly that. Would any of these facts be an adequate grounds for contesting the citation, or grounds for mitigation?

    I actually think I would be unlikely to contest the ticket if it were simply a parking citation. I still might consider doing so, but recognize that I wouldn't have a strong case. However, the tow seems to me to be excessive and inappropriate.

    Quote Quoting jk
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    If I was a cop I would consider the small area you were parked in in that space.
    Can you help me understand what you mean by this statement?

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Seattle Parking Law: Request for Guidance

    Quote Quoting irritatedinseattle
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    For those who have asked, I'll be able to share the specifics from the citation when I'm home later today. I don't have it with me at the moment.

    Per your points, jk, I wonder if there is a case to be made regarding whether or not their driveway was actually blocked? I know that I was no closer than 1 foot within the turn of the driveway, and don't believe I was closer than 2 feet. I also know that the complainants were motivated to pressure the officer to have the car towed because they wanted to use the space on the public street to park their own moving truck. In fact, they told me that they did exactly that. Would any of these facts be an adequate grounds for contesting the citation, or grounds for mitigation?

    I actually think I would be unlikely to contest the ticket if it were simply a parking citation. I still might consider doing so, but recognize that I wouldn't have a strong case. However, the tow seems to me to be excessive and inappropriate.
    I live in Seattle and can comfortably say the parking enforcement in the residential parts of town is strictly laissez faire. People routinely park facing the wrong way (I do it often in my neighborhood in West Seattle), park too far from the curb and violate a whole host of other miscellaneous parking rules. Often parking enforcement comes from a complaint. That said...

    You admit to parking inside that 5' zone that surrounds the entry to the driveway. That's a violation. It doesn't matter why the complainant became said complainant, that disregarding this rule, and others, is commonplace or anything else. Parking inside those zones can lead to towing in short order. Well, as short order as these things go. You'll have a hard time contesting the ticket and "others do it all the time" is not a valid defense.

    As to the tow: Seattle considers the area inside that zone to be a strict No Parking Zone, just like an intersection, within 15' of a hydrant, parking in alleys, etc. Basically, if you are blocking traffic where you park or access to safety equipment then you are subject to towing.

    If you're particularly petty you can complain to Seattle Parking Enforcement about them blocking their own driveway because you can't do that either.
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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Seattle Parking Law: Request for Guidance

    Quote Quoting irritatedinseattle
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    For those who have asked, I'll be able to share the specifics from the citation when I'm home later today. I don't have it with me at the moment.

    Per your points, jk, I wonder if there is a case to be made regarding whether or not their driveway was actually blocked? I know that I was no closer than 1 foot within the turn of the driveway, and don't believe I was closer than 2 feet. I also know that the complainants were motivated to pressure the officer to have the car towed because they wanted to use the space on the public street to park their own moving truck. In fact, they told me that they did exactly that. Would any of these facts be an adequate grounds for contesting the citation, or grounds for mitigation?

    I actually think I would be unlikely to contest the ticket if it were simply a parking citation. I still might consider doing so, but recognize that I wouldn't have a strong case. However, the tow seems to me to be excessive and inappropriate.


    Can you help me understand what you mean by this statement?
    first, if you impede the approach to the drive which is defined in your area as being within 5 feet of the drive , you are blocking the drive. You most definately fell within the area considered to have been blocking the drive. Per your dimensions of the area, there are very very few vehicles that could legally park in the area between the sign and the 5 foot away from the drive.


    , you have no valid defense to the ticket. You were less than the specifically stated distance from the drive by your own admission. It isnít blocking the drive but being within that 5 foot distance from the drive that makes the ticket valid.

    To the last statement

    if it was a cop, I would probably not ticket cars owned by the resident if they were parked in that small space since it is their own drive they would be affecting, even if it is technically a violation of the ordinance. Police do have the discretion.


    You need to understand that no matter what others do that may be illegal, it does not reduce your guilt if you violated the law. I see no defense to your ticket. As I said, I canít show you where there was a right to tow your car but I suspect you impeding the residents from using their drive does allow for the tow. You might try searching further for an argument that the tow was unlawful and contest that but I donít see any argument for the ticket itself.




    it appears mark47n is quite comfortable in stating the tow was legit. If he is a resident of the area I would tend to accept his statement as valid.

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