5 San Francisco Parking Tips

San Francisco City Parking Tips

Chances are, if you work, live, or have visited San Francisco, you understand the insane frustrations with having to find parking. In a city with over 880,000 people living there and 25 million visitors per year and only 442,000 San Francisco parking spots to accommodate everyone, you can probably understand why this is such a big issue. While there has been a lot done by the city to help with parking, such as, San Francisco parking permits and having San Francisco parking enforcement patrol cite violations, it is still a major problem. So, to help you out, we have put together a list of tips to help make your city parking experience a smooth and easy one.

1. Assume you are parked illegally until you check all signs and curbs.

In 2015, there were close to 1.5 million SF parking tickets issued, with the most common being a street cleaning violation. Signs and curbs will tell you if you are parked illegally, but sometimes they can be all the way up the street and hard to see. Even pulling over in a bus lane can be risky, more busses are being equipped with cameras to catch those who are in the lane for even just seconds. If you want to be safe, we recommend using one of the many San Francisco parking garages that you can book ahead of time through apps like Way.

2. Curb your wheels!

Many tourists are shocked when they drive for the first time in San Francisco. Not only is traffic horrible at peak times, but the amount of the hills and the grade of some of them can be a bit daunting. When using the street parking in San Francisco, you must “curb your wheels” if the grade is more than 3%. However, meter maids usually are not carrying around a ruler to check each grade, so most just eyeball it. To make sure you don’t get cited for this, just curb your wheels on even the slightest hill, you’ll get in the habit and you’ll avoid the ticket.

REMEMBER: When facing downhill, turn your wheels toward the curb. When facing uphill turn your wheels toward the street.

3. Take all valuables or anything that even looks valuable.

While car break-ins in San Francisco have seen a slight decline in recent years, sadly, this crime is still awfully common. There are, on average 64 car break-ins per day! Most tend to happen in the more touristy areas with rental cars and cars from out-of-state being the main targets. If possible, leave anything of great value at home/in a hotel and take everything out of your car when you leave it, even if you are using a parking garage in San Francisco, you can never be too careful.

4. Practice parallel parking.

If you are looking to save money and park on the streets, practice your parallel parking skills and get good at doing it fast. Since parking is scarce, people will swoop in and steal your spot without a second thought. If parallel parking isn’t your cup of tea, it may be smarter to bit the bullet and pay a little more to park in a lot.

5. Not all meters are free on Sundays.

Most San Francisco parking meters are enforced from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, Monday – Saturday. This means that from 6:00 pm to 9:00 am and on Sundays, you can score free parking in San Francisco by using a metered space. However, if you decide to go to a Giants game or use the San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf parking, expect the meters to be running, and be a little more expensive. Make sure to always check if a meter is working or not, just because someone covered it, does not mean it is broken. The only way the SFMTA (San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency) determines a meter is broken, is if the meter cannot accept any physical form of payment (i.e. coins and debit/credit card.)

To make your parking experience an even easier one, download the San Francisco parking appWay on iOS and GooglePlay to book your city, event, and monthly parking!

SFO City Parking


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