City looking to give parking scofflaws the 'boot'

SEATTLE -- New numbers show that a city program targeting parking scofflaws has already netted the city hundreds of thousands of dollars.

City officials announced last year that any cars parked on city streets with at least four unpaid parking tickets would be eligible for the boot. Officials estimated that some 30,000 cars were eligible, and those drivers owed the city $20 million in unpaid parking tickets.

New numbers obtained by the Problem Solvers show that 1,722 vehicles have been given the boot since the program began last July.

Working off the city's latest numbers, 900 cars got booted in just the first three months of the program, which allowed the city to rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"I'm all for revenue, increasing revenue, and so I support it, it's just annoying," said Seattle parker David Rodriguez.

Once a car gets the boot, the owner has 48 hours to pay up. If they fail to pay, the car gets towed. If they don't pay their tickets and the tow bill, the car gets auctioned off.

So far, 87 vehicles have been sold off or are headed for auction because the owners wouldn't pay.

While the new numbers show an increase in booted vehicles, they also show that the city is barely making a dent in its parking scofflaw problem.

As of this week, there are still nearly 19,000 vehicles with four or more tickets that would be booted if found.

"You can justify it in your own mind and so, yeah, people feel entitled to free parking where they are as long as they want to be," Rodriguez said.

The numbers also show that 60 percent of the parking scofflaws don't live in Seattle.

"If you're looking at Seattle being a welcoming city for visitors, you could be booting cars of visitors," said Justin, who parks in the city.

The city's still tracking its numbers, trying to gauge the program's success. They're also planning some additional advertising to help people understand the consequences of unpaid parking tickets.