Traffic Q&A: Homeowners not allowed to charge for parking on city streets

Question: While out at the Taste of Tacoma recently I noticed a lot of people charging for parking.

I understand paying to park in someone’s yard, but paying to park on the city street in front of your house is ridiculous. I encountered the same thing a few years ago while at Freedom Fair.

Is what the homeowner doing legal? Can they really charge me to park on the city street that my tax dollars already maintain just so they can make a few bucks?

– Mindy, Tacoma

Answer: In short, no.

The problem is, Tacoma police are usually tied up with other things. Patrolling for people charging for parking spots on city streets falls low on the priority list. Officers will respond if someone calls to complain, though.

Homeowners can charge people to park in their driveways but that requires a business permit. Charging money to park on a city street isn’t allowed and, if caught, violators could face criminal charges.

“If someone has cones out blocking a portion of the roadway for reserved parking, or they try to collect fees for parking on the street, it is illegal and the police can be called for enforcement,” police spokeswoman Loretta Cool said.

“The charges could range from blocking the roadway to fraud if they have collected any fees.”