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Gee, officer. I was just trying to cut my carbon footprint.

The City will tow your car if you leave it parked in one spot for more than 72 hours. Does this make sense? Should I drive more?

If you're planning on taking a plane, a train, or a one-horse open sleigh for holiday travels, the Seattle Department of Transportation has some bad news. At least it's bad news if, like me, you own a car and rely on street-side parking.

SDOT bans parking in the same curbside spot for more than 72 hours. Violators face a $35 fine and could have their vehicle towed. So make other arrangements before dashing through the snow (or airport terminal).

The ordinance provides a way to handle abandoned vehicles, but it presents obvious problems for travelers. If you've got a planned hospital stay of longer than 72 hours, best make arrangements for your vehicle. If you've got an unplanned hospital stay, good luck.

The law doesn't encourage environmentally-friendly transportation either. Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb suggested getting rid of your car as a solution. Fair enough. But I suspect there are plenty of Seattleites who want to keep their driving minimal without taking that plunge. My goal, which I rarely meet, is to limit driving trips to twice a week. It turns out that leaves me just shy of legal.

I'd suggest a permit system (available free online) for those who can't move their car for 4-14 days, for travel or health reasons. Enter your license or VIN number, print out a permit, slap it on your dashboard. Those wanting to abandon a vehicle aren't likely to bother. If it's longer than two weeks, make some arrangements. The law could limit the number of permits available to any vehicle in a year to a reasonable number.

What's wrong with this plan? Comments are welcome. So are suggestions for what to do with my car next week.

Jonathan Hiskes is writer at Bastyr University near Seattle. Find his work at jonathanhiskes.com.


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