Seattle resumes enforcement of 72-hour parking rule for first time since start of pandemic

SEATTLE — The Seattle Department of Transportation has restarted its enforcement of the city’s 72-hour parking requirement, after setting an Oct. 15 deadline last week.

The rule was originally paused by Mayor Jenny Durkan in March 2020 over concerns driven by the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Then in late-winter of 2021, Durkan announced that she would be directing the department to resume enforcement, effective April 1.

That led to some confusion over whether the policy had indeed resumed in April, which included City Councilmember Kshama Sawant issuing criticism on April 6 for a reinstatement that many believed to have already taken effect at the start of that month.

SDOT clarified to MyNorthwest that while an order from Durkan’s office suspending the policy’s enforcement had indeed expired on April 1, enforcement efforts had not yet resumed.

In late-September, SDOT also indicated that it would be “reviewing” its 72-hour parking policy, citing an intention 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.”

The city’s enforcement of the 72-hour requirement has started in earnest as of Oct. 15, first with warnings and citations. SDOT says there will be an early focus on “clearing unoccupied hazardous vehicles that may have been abandoned over the past 19 months.”

SDOT further noted that it will “not impound a vehicle with someone living in it unless it poses a specific risk to public health such as inadequate sanitations causing a direct risk of illness or injury, inadequate protection leaving the occupants exposed to the weather, or other environment fire, health and safety hazards.”

You can read more about the policy’s reinstatement on SDOT’s website here.