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Thursday, June 7, 2007

If You’ve Ever Been Mad About a Parking Ticket, Read This

posted by on June 7 at 14:33 PM

KC Superior Court ruled today that the city of Seattle issued thousands of parking tickets (on holidays) when they weren’t supposed to. Part of the problem—as with the main plaintiff in the case—was that holidays that fall on a Saturday (like New Year’s Day 2005) are supposed to be honored by meter maids on the previous Friday.

I just talked to one of the attorneys on the case, DeWelle Ellsworth, and he says the case will now go to the damages phase, and he estimates that the city is looking at refunds of up to $500,000 for the 4,000 people who were ticketed.

Ellsworth and his co-counsel, David Stobaugh, got hold of SPD records to determine how many people were inappropriately ticketed on the city’s 11 official holidays.

Here’s their press release:

June 7, 2007 — Seattle, Washington C Colette Turner, a Bellevue resident who had come to Seattle to shop, parked at a meter on Friday, December 31, 2004. When Turner returned to her car, she found that she had been issued a $35 parking ticket for failing to pay the meter even though it was a legal holiday. Having seen signs stating that parking was free on Sundays and holidays, she was shocked to be ticketed.

Collette Turner filed a class action lawsuit alleging that the City of Seattle unlawfully enforced metered parking on holidays defined by the City Code as being free parking days. Turner contended that the City unlawfully issued parking tickets and collected parking meter revenue on legal holidays. The Court certified the class on March 30, 2007. The class consists of over 4,000 individuals who received parking tickets on legal holidays and those who paid parking fees on legal holidays.

Today Collette Turner and her counsel received Judge Harry McCarthy’s June 6, 2007 written decision agreeing with Turner that the City of Seattle violated state law and city ordinances by issuing thousands of parking tickets on legal holidays.

SMC 11.14.277 Legal parking holidays. The following are legal holidays: Sunday; the first day of January, New Year’s Day; the third Monday of January, the anniversary of the birth of Martin Luther King, Jr.; the third Monday of February, Presidents’ Day; the last Monday of May, Memorial Day; the fourth day of July, the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence; the first Monday in September, Labor Day; the eleventh day of November, Veterans Day; the fourth Thursday of November, Thanksgiving Day; the day immediately following Thanksgiving Day, and the twenty-fifth day of December, Christmas Day. Whenever any legal holiday, other than Sunday, falls on a Sunday, the following Monday shall be a parking holiday. Whenever any legal holiday falls on a Saturday, the preceding Friday shall be the legal holiday.

RSS icon Comments



"...refunds of up toe $650,000..."

Posted by Carollani | June 7, 2007 2:37 PM

Sorry, I'm not the spelling police but that made me giggle.

Posted by Carollani | June 7, 2007 2:39 PM

If these were proper Federal holidays, then why didn't parking enforcement have the day off? Do regular SPD give parking tickets?

Posted by Dougsf | June 7, 2007 2:41 PM

Dougsf has a very very good point.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 7, 2007 2:43 PM

I don't get why a holiday that falls on a Saturday wouldn't mean free parking on that Saturday rather than the preceding Friday. So people actually do have to pay to park on Saturday holidays? Weird.

Posted by Amy Kate Horn | June 7, 2007 2:46 PM

That's just what I was thinking, Amy K.H.

And VERY good point, Dougsf.

Posted by monkey | June 7, 2007 2:54 PM

AKH @ 5,
No, she parked on a Friday. The "Holiday-ness" of the next day should have exempted her from paying.

Posted by Josh Feit | June 7, 2007 2:55 PM

i got ticketed that day picking up my friend at king st. center. r they gonna mail me my 35 bucks?

Posted by SeMe | June 7, 2007 3:02 PM

@3: There are still non-holiday-exempt parking situations that require enforcement (i.e. fire hydrants).

The better point is made @5. Were BOTH Friday 12/31 and Saturday 1/1 parking holidays?

Posted by DOUG. | June 7, 2007 3:13 PM

Not sure how I'd rule on this one, but really, the sign says SUNDAYS and HOLIDAYS, and her ticket was issued on neither. Because Federal agencies recognize the day preceding the rare Saturday holiday (NASDAQ and NYSE are also closed that day), does that mean the city traffic code honors this the same way? I almost can't believe this hasn't come up before.

Does Seattle take this to higher court? Here's what might come to light if they do:

"Constitutionally, there are no "national holidays" in the United States because Congress only has authority to create holidays for federal institutions (including federally-owned properties) and employees, and for the District of Columbia. Instead, there are federal holidays, state holidays, city holidays, and so on."

Like I mentioned before, the simple rule of thumb I'd follow is "If meter maids have the day off, parking is a go".

I really don't know why this is so fascinating to me. Someone learn me some legal stuff!

Posted by Dougsf | June 7, 2007 3:19 PM

It still seems like most meter maids would have the day off. How many do they need just to enforce handicapped parking and no parking in front of fire hydrants, driveways?

Posted by keshmeshi | June 7, 2007 3:49 PM

@10 - it's not the sign, it's the RCW that is the law. So if the sign says alternate Tuesdays and the law says that means alternate Monday nights, then it's the law that decides it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 7, 2007 4:15 PM

hmmm, i've been ticketed on a holiday (the ONE day I drove to work, knowing parking would be free, in three years), far back does this Class Action reach?

Posted by nipper | June 7, 2007 4:32 PM

I dunno. But now I just want a Meter Maid uniform so bad.

Posted by Boomer in NYC | June 7, 2007 8:58 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 2:24 PM


Posted by Bill | June 12, 2007 2:24 PM

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