Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibilitySeattle's parking ticket mistake will cost it up to $5M in refunds, canceled citations | KOMO
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Seattle's parking ticket mistake will cost it up to $5M in refunds, canceled citations

A parking meter in Seattle.
A parking meter in Seattle.
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The mayor of Seattle and some City Council members are trying to get to the bottom of a mistake that will cost the city between $4.5 and $5 million in parking refunds it will have to issue and canceled citations that will need to be scrapped.

For seven months, the city's parking enforcement officers were writing tickets even though they were not authorized to do so.

As a result, about 200,000 parking tickets issued by the officers will now either be voided or refunded to those who have paid them after the city missed a crucial step with how parking enforcement officers issue tickets.

The timeframe for the parking tickets in question is from September 2021 to April 5, 2022.

Drivers like Robert Roth believe the city's course of action now is only fair, after experiencing the price and pain of parking in downtown Seattle and racking up a huge bill.

“It’s like you have to take out a second mortgage to park around here,” he said Wednesday. “I don’t like to see the city have to get hit hard with extra expenses but at the same time the city can afford it. And at the same time, I’m not sure everyone getting a $44 ticket can afford it.”

“I’m rooting for those who’re getting money back,” said Linah Ododa, an Uber driver. “It’s tough times for everybody you know, and if someone comes and gives you a parking ticket and you have to pay for it, waste the whole day going to court, trying to fight it (and) pay more money. I think it’s ridiculous.”

“We have a lot of issues in the city and $5 million could probably go a long way," driver Glen Scott said. "So, it’s tough to lose that but I appreciate the accountability."

So how did the mistake happen?

Last August, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to move parking enforcement officers from the Seattle Police Department to the Seattle Department of Transportation following calls to reimagine policing in the city.

But now the city says those officers didn’t have the proper authority to issue tickets.

The special commissions are given to personnel who perform law enforcement responsibilities outside of SPD.

Mayor Bruce Harrell's office said after learning the special commissions needed to issue the tickets had not been properly issued, the Harrell Administration issued a directive to both agencies to complete the commissions.

The completed commissions for all of the parking enforcement officers were delivered by April 5.

Harrell sent KOMO News a statement saying: “Our administration has worked to make the ticket dismissal and refund process as swift and seamless as possible for those impacted. As mayor, I’m making it a priority to build a culture of collaboration between City departments that ensures we are coordinating and working together as One Seattle to support and improve services for all Seattle residents. I encourage those with impacted tickets, or who may have impacted tickets, to visit to learn more about the refund and dismissal process.”

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To check if a ticket you received is impacted, click here.

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