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Seattle to begin issuing warnings for the 72-hour parking rule on October 15, with an initial focus on abandoned, hazardous vehicles

Photo of an abandoned vehicle on a street in the City of Seattle. The City is resuming its enforcement of the 72-hour parking rule on October 15, with an initial focus on clearing unoccupied hazardous vehicles that may have been abandoned over the past 19 months.

With an increase of abandoned vehicles across Seattle, the City of Seattle will resume enforcing the 72-hour parking rule beginning October 15, 2021. While warnings and citations may be issued on any vehicle parked in one place for 72 hours, the initial focus will be on clearing unoccupied hazardous vehicles that may have been abandoned over the past 19 months.

City Traffic Code does not allow a vehicle to be parked on the same block of a city street for longer than 72 consecutive hours. In general, public streets are not an appropriate place for long-term vehicle storage. The 72-hour parking rule can also help prevent people from abandoning broken or unused vehicles on city streets.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and statewide stay at home order, enforcement of the 72-hour parking rule was suspended in March 2020. During this time, the City has continued to enforce other parking rules such as vehicles violating posted signs or otherwise leaving cars where parking is never allowed (such as blocking fire hydrants or transit lanes). The City has also continued its RV Remediation program at Seattle Public Utilities.  

The City has continued to monitor changing travel patterns and parking demand since then. There have also been increased requests to remove abandoned junk vehicles from city streets. Both of these factors indicate that now is the right time to resume enforcement of the 72-hour rule.

While the initial focus is on abandoned vehicles, all vehicle owners should get back in the habit of regularly moving vehicles to avoid a possible warning and citation. People should also check their block regularly for temporary parking restriction signs, which can be placed with a minimum of 24-hours notice for things like emergency utility work, cleaning, or special events.

Parking enforcement at SDOT will not impound a vehicle with someone living in it unless it poses a specific risk to public health such as inadequate sanitation causing a direct risk of illness or injury, inadequate protection leaving the occupants exposed to the weather, or other environmental, fire, health and safety hazards.

Starting soon, people will be able to report abandoned vehicles that have been parked on the street for more than 72 hours using the Find It, Fix It app. Because enforcement was paused for so long, the City expects that it will take longer than usual to respond to requests to clear abandoned vehicles currently on the streets.

A red vehicle is parked on gravel near a street in the City of Seattle. Both of its right-side tires are missing and a blue tarp hangs across the front of the vehicle.
An abandoned vehicle parked along a street in the City of Seattle.

We understand the past year and a half has been challenging in many ways, and deeply appreciate your patience and fortitude as we continue on the path to recovery. It is our intent to monitor progress as we begin enforcement of the 72-hour rule on October 15, 2021 and remain nimble to any unforeseen or changing conditions over the next several months.