An illegally parked abandoned trailer creates an eyesore for one Arlington neighborhood. (Arlington Times)

An illegally parked abandoned trailer creates an eyesore for one Arlington neighborhood. (Arlington Times)

Arlington takes aim at abandoned vehicles, parking scofflaws

If the City Council adopts an amended section to the code, police will gain new enforcement tools.

ARLINGTON – Parking scofflaws have been outfoxing Arlington police for years, avoiding a citation within 72 hours by wheeling their junk vehicles ahead a foot or two to hide the “chalk” warning on tires or spray paint line on the street.

Whether the vehicle is operable or not, Police Chief Jonathan Ventura said, owners and others “basically just come out and push the car forward a little, and say, ‘See, we’re moved.’”

When it comes to parking, Ventura said, “We were very limited on what enforcement actions we can do.”

There ought to be a law.

Actually, there is, but if the City Council Monday adopts an amended illegal parking section to the city code, scofflaws are going to find that police have plenty of new enforcement tools and easier impound powers, aside from fines already permitted.

The changes are part of a series of updates to the criminal justice-related sections of the code primarily covering peace, morals and safety; vehicles and traffic; and animals. It also brings city laws consistent with state criminal laws.

The problem is a quality of life issue, and it’s getting worse with more abandoned vehicles and trailers turning up around town.

Illegally parked vehicles — whether abandoned, inoperable or just plain neighborhood eyesores — are the bane of frustrated law-abiding residents, police with more pressing caseloads, and elected officials who field the calls from constituents asking for something to be done.

In the case of chalked cars, Ventura said, “We just have to mark it again. And you can imagine, looking at our call load, it’s hard for us to stay on top of it.”

Police, the city attorney and others have been working on updates for months. “We’re trying to be responsive and navigate the issue sensibly,” Ventura said.

The new laws address illegal parking by stating that if a vehicle is moved within the same neighborhood block, it still constitutes a violation if it is parked more than 24 hours after being marked in that area. The officer can then issue a citation.

The definition of “vehicle” was broadened to refer to motorhomes, trailers, boats, trucks, vans, tractors, buses and recreational vehicles, whether unlicensed or licensed, motorized or non-motorized.

The law also clarifies which vehicles can be impounded with notice, such as marking the vehicle for a parking violation, and without notice in situations where a vehicle is clearly abandoned, blocking traffic or parked in a handicapped spot.

A vehicle not subject to impoundment may still be seized after notice has been displayed for 24 hours prior to being hauled away.

Officers or towing companies under contract with the city are allowed to take the vehicles.

The new codes also spell out how to provide notice to owners, gives them the ability to request a hearing to contest the impound, how they can get their vehicle back, and how the city can reclaim the expense.

Within 24 hours after a vehicle is removed, the towing company or police will mail a first-class notice to the last known legal owner.

Ventura said the owner can contest the validity of the impoundment or the towing and storage charges, and request a hearing in writing within 10 days to Snohomish County’s Cascade District Court in Arlington. The city is transitioning to partner with the county and the district court for court and jail services.

Most illegal parking constitutes a non-criminal infraction, and officers can issue a $50 citation, or a $124 ticket consistent with state law. Combined with towing and storage fees, it can become costly and time-consuming for violators.

In most instances, police and code enforcement staff are looking for compliance. Police hope the new laws will reduce the abundance of illegally parked and abandoned vehicles.

“It has been a long time coming,” Ventura said.

This story originally appeared in the Arlington Times, a sibling paper to the Herald.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Hay Look Me Over, a Biewer terrier, with her handler, Molly Speckhardt, left, and owner Lynn McKee, of Lake Stevens. The 2-year-old terrier won a Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show ribbon for second, or next best, among the girls in her class. (Submitted photo)
Hairy Lake Stevens pooch wins classy ribbon at Westminster

Hay Look Me Over competed in the new class of Biewer terriers. A Pekingese stole the whole show.

DanVo'nique Bletson-Reed, president of the Snohomish County Black Heritage Committee, was given the Everett Community College Diversity and Equity Center's Malcolm X Day 2021 Community Awareness Award. (Snohomish County Black Heritage Committee)
EvCC recognizes SnoCo Black Heritage Committee leader

The Everett Community College Diversity and Equity Center bestowed DanVo’nique Bletson-Reed with… Continue reading

Jackson Emerick, 4, of Shoreline, tosses candy out to crowds lining Main Street in downtown Edmonds during the Edmonds Kind of Fourth Parade on Tuesday. (Ian Terry / The Herald)
Edmonds needs entries for July 4 parade or it may not happen

“An Edmonds Kind of 4th” parade is at risk of being cancelled if there aren’t more entries by June 21.

Lake Stevens High School graduate Madelynn Coe will be attending Northeastern University and participating in a study abroad program in Greece her first semester. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Madelynn Coe spent senior year helping others learn online

The pandemic changed everything for the class of 2021. For one young woman, it was a time to give back.

Jude Jackson, a senior at Crossroads High School, on Friday, April 23, 2021 in Granite Falls, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Jude Jackson changed schools, went to the top of his class

He is the first in his family to graduate from high school, an achievement he described as “surreal.”

Arnav Sood, senior ASB president at Henry M. Jackson High School, on Thursday, April 22, 2021 in Mill Creek, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Arnav Sood pushed hard to include others, even in a pandemic

The Jackson High student body president led his peers through uncertain times.

Amanda Brown, a senior at Darrington High School, will be attending WSU in the fall as the first person in her family to attend college. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Amanda Brown loves science, her hometown and her chickens

This Darrington grad is a first-generation college student who will always remember her roots.

Mariner High School graduate Careana Willis raises her diploma in the air Saturday as she walks back to her seat during graduation at Angel of the Winds Arena in Everett. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Graduate celebrates her accomplishment

Mariner High School graduate Careana Willis raises her diploma in the air… Continue reading

Supporters march Wednesday afternoon across from Providence Medical Center in Everett on May 5, 2021. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Everett nurses threaten to strike as contract talks stall

Union leaders say Providence’s latest offer includes low wages and cuts to benefits and paid leave.

Most Read