fremontI’m kind of straight edge and when it comes to parking I always try to park legally. One time a couple of years ago, I parked on a quiet side street in Ballard partially blocking a sidewalk. I thought it was okay, but I received a ticket and paid it with only a quiet hmmph. I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience. When I mess up, I don’t mind paying the fine.

But I’ve received four tickets the past two years in Seattle where I come out and go WTF? Nothing’s more frustrating then when you have no clue why you got a ticket. Have you received some of those? I’m pretty sure if I’ve received four, you’ve probably received some too. At a minimum, you have to take photos, write up a statement and send in two letters to contest the tickets. Paying them outright is $47, not cheap. Generally though, even if you have a good point, they still make you pay half the fine.

1. In September 2012, I received a  ticket for supposedly overstaying a 2 hour parking zone, but was able to get it dismissed by providing retail receipts from a distant Whole Foods location that showed I could not have been in the spot that long. I had to go back to Whole Foods to get a receipt to prove my innocence.

2. In December 2013, I received a ticket late in the evening under a very dark area in Fremont for being parked in a permit zone whose sign had been vandalized (pictured above, close up with camera flash). I parked a bit away from the sign and simply didn’t see it or I would have parked on the opposite side of the street where there was plenty of parking. Would you have noticed the upper part? They forgave half the cost of the ticket.

3. In January 2013, I received a ticket for parking at the wrong angle on the North side of Cal Anderson park where most of the paint markings have faded to almost nothing. I don’t know how the other cars were aligned when I first parked – it’s possible the lines near me were blocked. Note the truck beside me is also parked on the “line”. I thought I was fine. Again, they forgave half the cost of the ticket.


4. Today, I got a ticket for parking here at the edge of this three way intersection that made me completely go WTF? Can you guess what I was doing wrong? I’m the car behind the motorcycle.


How about now?


And now?


I was “blocking unmarked crosswalk” and “blocking north-south sidewalk path” that goes across the street to the front door of the house beside my car. I thought that was just the walkway to the person’s house.

So, am I just stupid? Dimwitted? Should I have my license revoked? Or has the city’s parking enforcement become too overzealous?

Please share your experiences in the comments.




Posted by Jeff Reifman

Jeff is a technology consultant based in the Pacific Northwest.


  1. It is simple: Making money from parking tickets is a higher priority than stopping people stealing packages off of people’s front steps even when home owners provide security video of the perps.


  2. So im trying to deal with this now..Over a month ago I had pulled over, andwithin a few seconds, a parking attendant drives by, i thought he was going to write a ticket for someone behind me. I was waiting for a friend, my car was still in drive and i had just seen her and was to go closer to pick her up when the attendant got my attention and said he was writing me a ticket. I asked him what for, didnt get a response. i told him i had to leave and he said “doesn’t matter i have your license number.” i said…”cool”, and i drove off and circled back to get my friend in the car. So i figure a ticket is coming in the mail. Ive waited well over a month and a postcard comes saying i have a 47.00 base penalty, and a 25.00 default penalty. There is no place to contest on this card, and it is just telling me i have to pay or face consequences. I hope to god there is video of what happened because it will back up my story. The violation says i was in a truck zone. I wasnt. There was a UPS truck behind me but we were both in a 2 hour area. What can i do?


  3. Hi Jeff,
    I recently got the same sort of ticket for an “unmarked crosswalk,” and I’m trying to decide how best to contest it (in person or via a letter). The street setup was very similar to what you’ve pictured here, with the only difference being that there was a clear 2-hour parking sign directly above where I parked, making it even harder to recognize that this was not a legal spot. I’d be curious to hear how your ticket was ultimately resolved as I try to decide what I’m going to do. Thanks!


    1. They might split it in half if you mail it in . You might have a chance at the whole ticket if you go in person.

      When they’ve been completely wrong, I’ve gotten a full refund via email – but the rest of the time 1/2 is the most they offer.


  4. I can’t stand Seattle parking enforcement. They’re often wrong, inconsistent with enforcing the law, and ticket for completely unclear violations. The worst part? They’re not motivated for us to stop breaking the law because it is such a money maker for them, it’s absurd.


    1. Parking tickets like this – the confusing ones that anyone could accidentally get – must be very hard on lower income folks.


  5. Just got a parking ticket at the exact same location in Madison Valley as your unmarked spot.


    1. So sorry to hear. I thought I noticed that they better painted that area. Do you have a photo? Definitely ask for a reduction.

      Maybe your ticket fee will help fund a future project for the homeless. We can hope.


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