Is it just me or are the parking rules around Seattle getting more and more complicated? Everywhere I turn, I see those electric parking-enforcement vehicles lurking like hawks around every corner. I find myself reluctant to park, and if I need to, I spend way too much time trying to interpret the cryptic parking signs. Exactly when are you allowed to park somewhere around here?

I also find myself slightly annoyed every time I realize they have changed the rules in a neighborhood and you can no longer freely visit your friends without risking a parking ticket.

What are the current City of Seattle parking rules, and how can you more easily interpret them, obey them and avoid a ticket? The City of Seattle has created this handy two-page guide that’s available at If you are like me, you may want to consider keeping one in the car for those times when you just aren’t sure.

Some of the most useful rules are as follows:

•Fire hydrants — No parking within 15 feet;

•Driveways — No parking within 5 feet. Pursuant to Seattle Municipal Code 11.72.120, the property owner or occupant may paint this 5-foot area with traffic-yellow paint;

•Crosswalks — No parking within 20 feet;

•Alleys — No passenger vehicles are allowed to park in an alley, only commercial vehicles, and they are limited to 30 minutes;

•Stop or yield signs — No parking within 30 feet; and

•Sidewalks and planting strips — No parking on the sidewalk or the planted area between the curb and the sidewalk. This has rarely been enforced in the past, although it appears that there is an increase in parking tickets issues for exactly this violation.

In addition, the following rules are also applicable:

•No parking in taxi zones, bus zones or car-share zones;

•Do not park in disabled parking unless you or your passenger are disabled and your vehicle displays a valid disabled placard, license plate or tab. Combined fines can cost you up to $455;

•Carpool parking is limited to those who have a Carpool Parking Permit issued by the City of Seattle;

•Restricted Parking Zones (RPZ) — Vehicles with the proper zone designation may park in these spaces for up to 72 hours. Vehicles without permits are limited to the times posted;

•Do not park dur ing the posted hours — Make sure you read the signs carefully, since signs around the city vary; and

•Time Limited Areas — Parking is allowed for up to the maximum posted. When the time expires you must move off the block (i.e., around the corner), not just down the street.

Also keep in mind that you should not park on the street with missing front or rear plates or with expired tabs.

The city also likes to enforce the 72-hour parking rule (in many instances it will be a neighbor who calls the violation in). The city considers any car parked in the same block for more than 72 consecutive hours as abandoned, and it can be both ticketed and towed. Not something you’d like to arrive home to after a weeklong vacation.

Parking tickets range from $29 to $250; the vast majority are $47. Specific details can be found at

Finally, while not a parking ticket, watch out for the red-light cameras (automated photo enforcement), as well as school-zone cameras and arterial-speed enforcements. A red-light camera violation gets you a $124 ticket in the mail, while the arterial-speed enforcement varies depending on the extent the vehicle exceeds the posted speed limit. Police are out there, and the tickets usually does not arrive until weeks after the actual incident — just enough time to think you got away with it.

MONICA LANGFELDT is founding partner at Langfeldt Law (

To comment on this column, write to