Driveways and parking don’t mix

Are vehicles ever parked too close to your driveway? What can be done?

According to the Seattle Municipal Code (SMC 11.72.110) it is not permitted to park in front of a driveway. In fact, there is a five foot buffer on either side of the driveway where parking is prohibited.

What can you do if people are breaking this rule at your driveway?

SDOT recommends that property owners use yellow paint to enhance this five-foot area. Painting the curb yellow, five feet back from the edge of your driveway, will help to increase the sight distance for motorists to see all vehicles, including bicyclists.  To view an example of how the curb should look, please visit

When you see parking violations occurring, call and report them to the Seattle Police Department non-emergency dispatch number at (206) 625-5011 to get the next available parking enforcement officer out to the location.

You can also call SDOT at (206) 684-ROAD (7623) or send an email to

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  1. Steve says

    My curb has been painted for over 2 years now and people continue to disregard it. I’m tired of calling parking enforcement (but thankful that they usually do send out an officer).

    I think the reason people disregard the curb marking is that Seattleites (myself included) consider a yellow curb to mean “it’s okay to park here for a while” — like loading zones. I was wondering if it would be helpful to stencil some words on the curb to make it clearer, such as “No Parking”, “Do Not Block”, “Tow Away Zone” or something else equally discouraging. Any thoughts?

    • pegNielsen says

      Sorry, but we can’t approve a stencil or sign. This is not a loading zone, which should be clear to people parking since it’s only five feet of painted curb adjacent to a driveway. As you mentioned, no parking in the yellow painted curb area is enforceable by SPD Parking Enforcement, so we encourage you to continue working with them as needed. Eventually, the ticketed offenders will get the message!

  2. Diane Duthweiler says

    Is it a vehicle’s front and back ends that must be 5 feet from the curb or driveway, or the car tire that must be 5-feet from a driveway or curb?

    • pegNielsen says

      It depends on the location of the driveway and your car: 5 feet from the front end of your car if the driveway is located in front of your car and if the driveway is located behind your car there must be 5 feet between the rear end of your car and the driveway. In other words, there must be 5 feet on both sides of the driveway between parked cars in order to maintain roadway visibility for the motorist exiting the driveway and entering traffic on the street where cars are parked. For a clear diagram, please view the following webpage:

    • SDOT Blog says

      According to the Seattle Municipal Code, you can just go ahead and paint the curb near your driveway yellow. No permit is needed. Instructions on this can be found here.

  3. christie says

    I always thought it was three feet from the curb starting at the straight line this is crazy news to me as I remember my drivers ed teacher in 1985 drilling this rule into my brain! SDOT was this amended at some point or a miss-print in the WSDL booklet I studied endlessly ;0)
    Please let me know it’s killing my OCD!

    • SDOT Blog says

      We certainly hope they gave you the right distance in 1985 as the City Council passed this requirement (SMC 11.72.110) in 1979. If you took your drivers’ course here in Seattle, the instructor should have been aware of the five foot requirement.

  4. James says

    > Painting the curb yellow, five feet back from the edge of your driveway

    This is somewhat ambiguous since many people might interpret “edge of your driveway” to mean the edge if it were projected in a straight line out to the street. The pic includes the complete curvature portion as well, which might tack on another foot or two of street length depending on how much curvature there is. And that also leads to the question whether this curvature is the same everywhere. If not, different driveways will have different buffers.

    • HenryB1 says

      The diagram shows measurement of five feet beginning where the driveway’s corner radius, or curvature portion, ends and the curb is flat. That is how the measurement should be applied. It is true that this may add a small amount of buffer for some driveways depending on their design.

  5. Kathy T says

    We have painted our curb for our condo building’s driveway, and cars still park into the yellow curb zone. Our driveway has a blind spot coming out (up a hill) so sometimes it’s difficult to know where you are going when cars park into the zone/driveway. What can we do about this? Can we call DOT?

    • SDOT Blog says

      The best answer is to call SPD’s parking enforcement and ask them to ticket illegally parked vehicles. You can do so by calling 206-386-9012.

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