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With its citizens asked to ‘stay home,’ Seattle easing parking restrictions including dreaded ’72-hour rule’

The City of Seattle is hoping a few temporary changes to its parking rules — including lifting of the “72-hour rule” — will help ease some of the daily pains during the “stay home” days of the COVID-19 response,

The changes announced Saturday include lifting enforcement of the rule requiring cars to be moved at least every three days and limiting towing of vehicles to situations that are causing safety or traffic issues.

The moves come after growing complaints over parking tickets issued as residents have been asked to stay home and limit outings to help stem the rise of COVID-19 infections and amid a few dramatic anecdotes of medical personnel and first responders having cars ticketed while the owners worked long hours.

The city says the suspension of the 72-hour rule will be monitored for two weeks for “impacts to surrounding communities” and may be extended.

The two changes join a third previously announced change dedicating some street parking near restaurants as new curbside pickup zones:

72-Hour Parking Rule: The City will temporarily suspend enforcement of the 72-hour parking rule. People should still follow posted signs regarding other time restrictions. Vehicles without Residential Parking Zone permits must still obey time limits in those zones. This suspension will initially last for two weeks. During this time the City will actively monitor health and safety conditions and impacts to surrounding communities. The City may extend the suspension or make additional temporary adjustments to the enforcement procedures.

 Booting and Towing: The City will limit towing to situations which create safety hazards, block access, or create other major issues. The City will suspend booting of vehicles with unpaid parking tickets for the duration of the Seattle Municipal Court closure.

 Temporary Restaurant Loading Zones: SDOT is installing temporary loading zones at restaurants to support businesses and facilitate food pick-up. No payment is necessary for quick food pickups in the three-minute load zones. Residents can find all temporary loading zones on the COVID19 – Food Pick-Up Zone Map. Restaurants can request temporary load zones by contacting SDOT at 206-684-ROAD or

We’re implementing new parking regulations to better meet our community’s needs during this unprecedented moment in history,” Mayor Jenny Durkan said in a statement. “As the pandemic continues, we’re seeing more and more residents smartly stay in their homes, and no one should be punished for following public health guidance and preventing community spread.”

Meanwhile, public transit riders will also see big changes as both Sound Transit and King County Metro are cutting back service under a huge drop in demand while also temporarily ceasing fare collection. Metro is also requiring riders to board from bus backdoors to try to create more distance between its drivers and riders.


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8 thoughts on “With its citizens asked to ‘stay home,’ Seattle easing parking restrictions including dreaded ’72-hour rule’

  1. The 72 hour rule is outdated anyway… people shouldn’t be *encouraged* much less required to drive every 72 hours… I get what it was for (and no… it was not ever meant for harassing people who park in front of their own homes) – but we have other ways of dealing with dumped and stolen cars – especially now that a license plate can simply be scanned to get all of the info on the driver, and even more so these days when so many neighborhoods have zoned parking.

    • It is not outdated. Parking spaces on our streets are meant to be shared among all citizens, and not to be storage areas where selfish people leave their vehicles for weeks on end.

      • Bubkis – the rules were put into place long before there was ever any issue about a lack of street parking. It was meant to provide a means of clearing vehicles that no longer are functional and/or vehicles that have been stolen from the streets. Now it is simple for the parking enforcement people to scan a license plate to see if the vehicle is properly registered, if it is stolen and who it belongs to. If we had yearly car inspections, then it’d be even more simple. Think I’m making this up – nope….

        “City leaders’ intent in passing this ordinance is to prevent the storage of junk and abandoned vehicles on city streets,” Seattle Department of Transportation spokeswoman Mafara Hobson wrote

      • It’s continually abused because people think their reporting is anonymous. Note to those who use Find It Fix It or the online version of it to report your neighbors, lying about how long their car sat because you find the car ugly: Your neighbor can do a public disclosure request and out the bully, as happened on my block. We had a party when he finally moved.

      • ? “Bubkis”….is that an effort to demean me? Nice try.

        Parking officers do not just take the word of a complainant, as far as how long the vehicle has been occupying a space. They respond to a report, usually in 2-3 days, and then chalk the vehicle. They then recheck the location 3-5 days later to confirm that it is out of compliance with the regulation, and if so they put a warning on the windshield. They then check again several days later, and sometimes ticket the vehicle. Towing is done as a last resort, and it is done rarely.

      • good grief – use a dictionary before you get your panties in such a tight bunch

        nounINFORMAL•US noun: bupkis
        nothing at all.

  2. Maybe the parking enforcement officers will finally be able to focus on drivers leaving their cars on sidewalks, blocking crosswalks, and parking too close to intersections. This should be their primary focus at all times.

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