Local teachers struggling to find parking near schools

SEATTLE -- For some Seattle teachers, the most difficult part of the day is finding a parking spot at work.

A wide area around Montlake Elementary School is zoned to keep University of Washington students and commuters from parking all day, but many Montlake teachers are caught in the crackdown.

Principal Claudia Allan is fighting for the right for her teachers to park.

"They should not be stressed out about parking," she said. "They should be thinking about what are they going to do to instruct their children that day."

There are about 30 staff members at Montlake Elementary, and they're currently allotted four parking spaces.

"People have to go out and move their cars every two hours to park anywhere near our school," Allan said.

That's no easy task for teachers, but it's necessary in more and more neighborhoods as 2-hour restricted parking zones spread through the city. Only those who live in the area can park for longer periods of time.

"We can park up to three, four or five blocks away. If we're carrying our gear, it's a big hassle," said teacher Margaret Gingrich.

Teachers who don't abide by the parking rules can end up with expensive tickets.

"I get about one ticket a year, which is about $54 right now. Some teachers get four or five," Gingrich said.

A couple of tickets can wipe out a day's pay for a teacher. The city is now working out a potential compromise for next year that would allow daylong parking passes while nearby homeowners are mostly away at work.

"Not for the weekends, not for the football games, just for getting to and from their classrooms," Allan said.

In the meantime, some homeowners have been loaning teacher their Zone 1 visitor passes and even allowing them to park in their driveways during the work day.