Parking ticket hot spots: Where you’re most likely to get cited in Western Washington

SEATTLE -- It's happened to the best of us.

Drive into the city. Some food, maybe a movie. Head to your car, ready to go home and BOOM ... you get a parking ticket.

Whether in Tacoma, Seattle or Everett you're in danger of getting the dreaded citations. But some spots are worse than others, Q13 News has found. And Seattle, in particular, is racking up a pretty penny in ticket revenue.

Parking in Tacoma? Watch out for Pacific Avenue 

Along with parking downtown comes the occasional parking ticket, said University of Washington Tacoma junior My Nguyen.

Nguyen parks in downtown Tacoma frequently, and often comes away with a ticket.

"I get like a parking ticket every day," Nguyen told Q13 News with a laugh.

Monday through Saturday, parking enforcement patrols Tacoma streets. The most likely place you'll get ticketed is along Pacific Avenue, near the Federal Court House, the Tacoma Art Museum and the University of Washington Tacoma.

Between August 2016 and January 2017, nearly 4,000 tickets were written in that area, according to the Tacoma Municipal Court.

Top 5 Tacoma Parking Tickets Locations from Aug. 1, 2016-Jan. 31, 2017 

  1. 1700 Block of Pacific Avenue - 1,708 tickets issued
  2. 900 block of S. Tacoma Avenue - 1,392 tickets issued
  3. 1900 block of Jefferson Street - 1,334 tickets issued
  4. 700 block of St. Helens Avenue - 999 tickets issued
  5. 1900 block of Pacific Avenue - 844 tickets issued

Mark Elmer, a parking enforcement officer with the City of Tacoma, said he's trying to make sure his growing city has enough places for everyone to park.

"They're bringing in more and more people all the time and so the competition for the spots, there's quite a bit of it right now," Elmer said.

Tacoma owns several garages that don't have a two-hour parking limit, offering drivers an alternative. But some, like Nguyen, prefer to roll the dice with the hour limit and hope they catch the meter in time.

It doesn't always work, and Nguyen says he has seven tickets from Tacoma.

"Don't judge me," Nguyen said, laughing.

Seattle and Everett Parking Ticket Hotspots 

Seattle dwarfs Tacoma in the amount of parking tickets handed out. From Aug. 1, 2016 to Feb. 1, 2017, 220,745 tickets were issued, officials with the City of Seattle told Q13 News.

That's more than 1,200 a day.

Of course, the tickets are not solely related to expired meters. Things like parking in restricted areas, expired tabs, parking in a zone not slated for the vehicle, parking in an area for more than 72 hours and myriad other ways to get tickets in Seattle are taken into account.

According to a map Q13 News put together based on data retrieved from the Seattle Municipal Court, the ticket hot spots are Alki Beach, Capitol Hill near Cal Anderson Park, Pioneer Square, the University District and Ballard.

Though the City of Everett does not run meters, parking is enforced by time limits. Drivers are allowed to park for up to 90 minutes, and parking enforcement marks drivers' tires to keep track of time. As in Seattle, citations are also given for expired tabs.

According to Q13 News' calculations, the most ticketed areas of Everett from Aug. 1, 2016 to Feb. 1, 2017 were:

  1. 2900 block of Colby Avenue
  2. 2700 block of Colby Avenue
  3. 2900 block of Rockefeller Avenue
  4. 2800 block of Wetmore Avenue
  5. 2800 block of Colby Avenue

Cash boom?

With parking in Seattle costing up to $4.50 an hour, it's easy to see how people run short on change or try to time the meter just right.

A $47 parking ticket is not easy to come back to, but it does help build the revenue for the city.

Each of the past five years, collections from parking tickets has amounted to more than $20 million in revenue.

Seattle Parking Ticket Revenues Per Year

2012     25,044,579

2013     25,566,134

2014     21,774,032

2015     20,696,353

2016     20,773,136

The revenue goes into the city's general funds.

According to Norm Mah with Seattle's Department of Transportation, five percent of the city's parking is Restricted Parking Zone.

If you think Seattle's ticketing problem is bad-- New York City issues about 800,000 tickets a month.