A new analysis by the City of Seattle shows that 2,000 of the city’s worst parking offenders are evading the penalties that are supposed to be applied to “scofflaws” – owners of vehicles with four or more unpaid tickets.
The research was conducted at the request of Seattle City Council’s Public Safety Committee that voted on Wednesday to close the loophole that allows chronic parking offenders to escape justice. The measure will be voted on by the full council on Monday.
The move comes 10 months after a KING 5 Investigation found cars of drivers with dozens of tickets are not getting the ultimate scofflaw punishment – an immobilizing wheel clamp called the “boot.”
At a Public Safety Committee meeting on Wednesday, city officials said that the unpenalized scofflaws are those who do not have valid addresses on file with the Department of Licensing. That means that the Seattle Municipal Court cannot find an address to send a required warning notice through the mail. The current law says a car cannot be booted until a written notice has been sent to the registered owner’s address.
The committee voted to change that part of the law.
Under the bill, parking enforcement officers would simply paste the warning notice on the windshield of the offending car. The sticker would serve as notice that the car will be booted the next time it is parked illegally.
Councilman Bruce Harrell, who sponsored the legislation, said scofflaws owe a big debt to the taxpayers of Seattle. He said outstanding fines of drivers with four or more tickets total approximately $21 million.
In September of last year the KING 5 Investigators profiled Sophia Phillips, the former owner of a Capitol Hill vintage clothing store. She had 147 unpaid parking tickets. Most of them were incurred at a truck load zone in front of her business.
Phillips car had a California license plate and she had no valid Washington address on file with the Washington Department of Licensing. She didn’t pay her tickets, yet her car was never immobilized with a boot.
A spokesperson for Harrell could not say how long it would take for the bill to become law in Seattle if it is passed by the council.