PITFALLS
SECRET SWEET SPOTS

If you work for the SFMTA, DPT, or the Department of Transportation..... nothing personal, but you are not invited to this party, so please exit this page immediately by clicking here for some information to consider...

Welcome, congratulations, you made it.. Here is the list...thanks to everyone who shared a favorite parking gem! If you haven't shared one yet, it would be great to share one if you find any in the future. I've been pretty successful at keeping this page a secret and out of the hands of DPT. In order to do so, I have to change the place to click on, and also the title page. I'll alert you when the the place to click to get to this page changes. If you're interested in receiving updates to parking gems as they come in, shoot me an e-mail with "update me" in the subject line by clicking here. I don't share anyone's email with anybody else (I hate spam as much as you do).

Thanks again, all of you have been incredibly friendly, kind, and have made this a really fun project!

~ David

CIVIC CENTER

Polk Street:
This one is courtesy of Daniel:I would like to share a spot I found over the weekend, it is on Polk adjacent to the Civic Center Courthouse between McAllister and Golden Gate. There are two white curb spots that are marked, 'No Parking 6 – 8 AM Mon Wed Fri Sat for Street Cleaning' and another sign that states 'No Parking during Business Hours'. I arrived around 10 AM on Saturday and had the pleasure of parking in one of the two spots all day…

REDWOOD ST. Between Polk and Van Ness, one block up from McCallister. This is great parking for City Hall events, Bill Graham Civic Auditorium events and events in the surrounding area. There are 4 spots that are for "official use only". But, only until 5pm. Most people usually get afraid of these "official use" spots, but just read all of the signage. There also are 5 other spots at the end of this alley that are yellow loading zone spots, but these are often taken.

N.W. reports that there are yellow zones on Redwood near the Van Ness California Pizza Kitchen without meters that DPT never pays attention to. (Shared by N.W.)

N.W. has another good find for us: I just wanted to let you know that there is a newly broken meter right out in front of California Pizza Kitchen on Redwood near Van Ness. I think it’s the 3rd spot back from Van Ness. Anyway, DPT says they will time parkers (1hr limit), but it’s free for now. The best part? It’s the only spot on the whole road that’s not restricted (i.e. it’s not yellow, and it’s not one of those painted-white two spots that are for passenger drop off or pick up right in front of CPK. Those are restricted from only 11am to 2pm and usually vacant.) I validated that the meter does read “out of order”, and there is a white sign that has been rubber-banded to the meter reading “Meter Is Broken”.

 

POTRERO HILL

I know Potrero Hill isn't the toughest place to park, but on a Friday and Saturday night, it can difficult. On Texas Street, 2 blocks from all of the restaurants, across from 246 Texas Street is a house with a no parking sign on it in front of what used to be a garage. The garage is no longer there, and there is no driveway. People are intimidated by this so don't park there. It is a totally legitimate place to park. DPT states that people can put any sign on their house that they want, but it doesn't mean that it is true. Look for this in other areas of town as well. People just want a gauranteed spot in front of their house.

 

TELEGRAPH HILL/BATTERY STREET

For Levi's employees, for the KGO, KCBS, NBC, and Kron news people or anyone working in the area without parking garage priviliges, the N.E. corner of Vallejo St. at Battery St., there is one spot alone in a sea of meters that is free all day long. Right on the corner. No meter, no restrictive signs, no quarters, no tickets, no fooling. Be sure it is the one on the corner and not the one in front of the garage.

CLEMENT/ The AVENUES
There are some great free, all day spots in these areas
and they are hidden in plain sight. Residential
parking is limited to 2 hours (wait, that's not the great
part). The great part is that these 2-hour signs are only
enforced for 100 feet. For my friends at Green Apple
Books, I found seven spots that are more than 100 feet
from any 2-hour residential permit sign.

This means that they can park there all day, and all
night because the 2-hour time limit is not enforceable
in these spots, even though it is in a residential zone.
The spots I found are on 12th Ave. between Lake and
California from in front of 130 12th Ave all the way
up to California St. But, there are many more, so if
you see one that looks good, rough measure first (7 or
8 car lengths), then verify it by accurately measuring,
it will only take a minute. But it’s so worth it because
that spot will be golden for possibly years.

NORTH BEACH

Parking in the white zone in front of Bimbo’s 365 Club on Columbus between Chestnut and Francisco is a great find when you are sure that they are not having a show. How will you know this? If the gates are down in front of the foyer, there is no show. Also, read the schedule in front for conformation.

The white zone at the Hustler Club on Kearny at Broadway. Most always an open spot during the day until 5 p.m. Everyone freaks out about it being a whitezone, and the big bouncer smoking cigarettes in front, but until 5 p.m. it is a totally legit spot to park (there is a meter, so remember to feed it). Good access to City Light Books, Chinatown, etc.

On Cyrus Place at Broadway St. (Above the Broadway Tunnel) there is a house with a somewhat official looking "No Parking Sign" that a homeowner posted on his property. But this is not official, just someone trying to make you think that it is a "No Parking Zone." Ignore it, and feel free to park there.

North Beach Residential two-hour zones are enforced until 9 p.m. Most residential zones are enforced until 6 p.m. So, if you park in North Beach, don’t assume that you are safe because it is after 6 p.m.

Chestnut and Columbus There is a yellow loading zone on Chestnut at the southeast corner of Columbus with a fire hydrant close to it. This combination usually scares people away for about an hour after it is in force. The loading zone is from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. Just make sure that you are three feet away from the hydrant.

Grant at Union On the North side of the intersection in front of the French-Italian Bakery, there are four loading zone metered spaces in effect until 1 p.m. General metered parking at these meters starts at 1 p.m. They are frequently vacant as most people assume it’s a loading zone until 6 p.m. Parking right in front of an amazing bakery…what could be better?

Grant at Columbus for the first block, the metered loading zones here are only in effect until noon.

If you can't find a space, and have already circled once or twice, pull over as close as you can to the right with your hazards on, allowing people to pass you on the left, and just wait a few minutes. But not passively...actively look as far up Grant as you can for any car activity, or people with keys in hand walking to the driver's side of a car...and then react. I've never waited more than 4 minutes for a spot on this street in this fashion.

 

THE EMBARCADERO

Bay Street at Embarcadero, both sides of the street. As soon as you turn onto Bay Street from the Embarcadero there is free parking. No meters, no restrictions other than overnight street sweeping. (Shared by M.G.)

 

FINANCIAL DISTRICT

On Spear Street between Market and Mission the loading zones are enforced only until 11 am. Most all loading zones south of Mission St. in the Financial district are enforced only until 11 a.m. like on Spear St. or 1 pm like on Steuart St. After that, they are general metering.

The alleys between Market and Mission from Spear up to 5th St. These are often overlooked areas. Make sure that it is well lit and not unsafe. The closer that you get to 6th street, the more that the alleys are used for things other than parking. Like my grandfather said, “It’s better to circle for 15 more minutes trying to find a parking space than run into trouble in an alley.“

Mission Street between 2nd St. and 3rd St. There are predominantly loading zone meters on this section of Mission St., but there are several general meters sprinkled along this section. Circling in this section usually reveals an opening within a few minutes. Beware though that the parking spaces become a commuter lane at 3 p.m., and you will be towed at 3 p.m. sharp.

In front of 201 Howard (southeast corner of 3rd and Howard...the second metered spot from the corner). This is the building with the Chevy's on the ground floor. In the attached pic, the space that's occupied by the burgundy Fiesta or whatever it is does not currently have a parking meter. For whatever reason, the meter that's shown in the Google maps pic has been pulled out or otherwise disposed of, but neither the curb nor the signage has changed. Thus it is completely free parking, for now anyway. The bad thing is it's not a space that will scare anyone off, like some of the ones you mention in your post, so it's usually occupied.

 

THE MISSION DISTRICT

Dolores street between 22nd and 24th. Not all spaces here are unrestricted, but check both sides of the streets to find the spots. Also once school is out you can park on the long strip in front of Edison Elementary school. Easy hassle free parking! (Shared by I.D.)

There is an interesting phenomenon that occurs on Mission Street during busy evenings, and on Sunday mornings. There is a center median in the middle of the street. While you may see many cars parked in this median, do not be fooled, it is not a parking lot. It’s intended to be used as a left turn lane. Parking here is not legal, even if you see scores of other cars parked here. But mom, all the kids are doing it…It is a game of numbers. With so many cars doing it sometimes, the game is whether or not your car will be one that is towed before you are ready to leave. I’ve seen cars parked there all Sunday morning, safe and sound. On other days and nights, however, I’ve seen six tow trucks come up in a convoy accompanied, by a DPT officer. They towed six cars in under two minutes…15 minutes later; they came back for six more. Are you feeling lucky, punk? The side streets can be your best bet earlier in the evening when parking in the Mission. Later on, there is considerable coming and going with people arriving at and leaving the bounty of wonderful bars and restaurants.

 

LAGINA HONDA/MT. SUTRO

From Dan: My modest contribution would be that Clarendon Ave, the road that spans Mt. Sutro between 17th St. and 7th Ave., has tons of generally unrestricted (72 hour) parking. It is a convenient place to park for day trips to the inner Sunset or Golden Gate Park; several forested trails descend from the top of the hill down the the area of shops and restaurants.

 

UNION SQUARE

Grant Street is a one-way street, between O’Farrell and Geary. On the right side of this section of Grant, there are six one-hour general metering meters. Hovering, or circling around these meters is a good bet. On the left side of Grant between O’Farrell and Geary there are loading zone meters that are general metering after 4 p.m. on Monday through Saturday with no other restrictions. O’Farrell near Union Square The loading zone metered spaces here are only in effect only until 4 p.m. Excellent, right? Not so fast, Charlie. It doesn’t mean that it’s a good score at 4 p.m. If you look up on the poles, you will find a sign indicating that there is no parking at all between the commute hours of 4-6 p.m. So avoid the several hundred dollars and several hours of inconvenience, by remembering to read all of the signs.

 

NOB HILL SUGGESTIONS

• Look for White Zones, especially when returning homelate (10PM) and leaving early (before 7AM) - These are passenger loading zones. Most people assume that you can’t park in white curb zones, but that’s true only
during the posted hours written on the curb (just make
sure you know what the hours are). This is great for the Masonic Auditorium. There is a white zone in front of 1250 Jones at Clay, another one a couple of blocks away at 1201 California at Jones, and a very long one in front of Grace Cathedral that’s in effect only Tuesday thru Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Anytime not during those times, it is free. I imagine that this will be a reliable one most evenings when there is not a performance at the Masonic.

• Look for Green Zones - People tend to honor the time limit in this neighborhood. They are for short-term parking in front of stores and libraries, and are usually in effect only limited hours (usually 9am-6pm), but after or before that, they ar free. There is a green zone in front of Chico’s
Market at Sacramento and Leavenworth.

• Look for Orange and White Sawhorses- For some reason, there are more sawhorses per capita in Nob Hill. They indicate construction and are used to reserve a spot for moving truck. Check the dates and times on these signs, as they are often posted several daysearly and are often left up long after they are ineffect. A lesser known tip is that some construction signs will have written on them in tiny point size “Not Enforced if Construction Does Not Begin by 12:00 pm.”

850 BRYANT ST.
The Superior Court House. We’ve all been there a
time or two, to contest a traffic ticket, to pay a
delinquent parking ticket (hopefully for the last time),
or for some other unpleasant reason. And, parking is
tough right on Bryant St. Most people I’ve observed
circle to the right a few times, then just cave in and
pay someone $10 to park in a lot for an hour or two.

But, just past the court house, heading north (toward
the Ferry Building) on Bryant, take a left on 6th St. Just
under the overpass, before you get to Harrison St.
there is almost always a spot vacant in the meter-less
2-hour zone. It’s good after 9 a.m. until 3 p.m, and
then after 7 p.m.

 

BROADWAY and VAN NESS

On Cyrus Place at Broadway St. (Above the Broadway Tunnel) there is a house with a somewhat official looking "No Parking Sign" that a homeowner posted on his property. But this is not official, just someone trying to make you think that it is a "No Parking Zone." Ignore it, and feel free to park there.

 

MARINA DISTRICT

From Claudia: I have a golden parking spot- it's at Divisadero and Broadway. There is no need for a residential parking permit here, so you can park all day. However, there is a street cleaning sign posted here.

In the 2000 block of Beach Street, between Scott and Divisadero, on the south side of the street. There's a white passenger zone big enough for two cars. There's a cut-out that looks like a van stop with a ramp. From 7:30-2 on school days it's for unloading and loading children, but otherwise it's a go for normal parking. It seems everybody bypasses it, because it looks almost like a handicapped or very official school bus thing. But it's not most of the time. The school is called "Claire Lillienthal School", I think. Maybe that will help others remember it. (Shared by S.T.)

 

FREE RESERVED PARKING ANYWHERE
If you have a regular place to be at a specific time
each day or even one day a week and it’s typically a
hassle finding parking, then this tip is for you.

Arrive about a half an hour earlier than you normally
do and park on the street near your location (by the
way, you are allowed to park in front of fire hydrants
as long as you are in the car with the keys). Adjust all
of your mirrors so you can see all around you on both sides of the street and wait. “What are we waiting for
smart guy?” You’re waiting for someone to leave their
spot. “That’s brilliant, I’m glad I bought this book.”

Keep reading. Here comes the good part.

When somebody leaves their spot, take their spot, but
make a detailed note of their car’s make and model
and any identifying marks such as a bumper sticker.
Remain watching. And make detailed notes of every
car that leaves and the exact time that they leave.

We humans are incredibly habitually punctual,
especially in the mornings. If we’re late leaving for
work, we’re consistently late leaving for work. People
tend to leave their house at close to the exact minute
every morning. Many people also have regular
weekly appointments, or tend to leave work to pick
up their kids, etc. at the exact same time every day.
And, they also tend to have favorite parking spots.

The next morning, look at your notes and find one or
two of the previously observed cars, and wait.
Chances are that the person will be leaving their spot
at the exact same time.

Keep gathering data. It may take a few tries to gather
enough reliable information, but soon enough, you
will be able to pull up to a specific car, at an exact
time, on schedule as they are leaving. Then pull right
into your new, self-created, totally free, personal,
reserved parking spot each day. Every Tuesday I have to be somewhere at 1:00 p.m.
At exactly 12:55 p.m., every Tuesday, I see this baker
walking down the street smoking a cigarette, his day
is done. I am waiting in my car parallel to his car, and
when he leaves, I pull right into his spot.

It actually made him smile, once he realized that this
was a routine. Once in a while, he gives me a great
loaf of bread before he leaves, and I give him a cd of
music that I’ve recently discovered and think he’ll
like.

Stories like this aren’t completely uncommon. A
reader wrote, in telling me that she had a similar
experience. She was racing to work one day and
needed a miracle parking place. She noticed a man
walking to his car, and yes, he was leaving! The next
day, she noticed him walking to his car again.
Awesome. They became parking regulars with this
routine. She swears that he even waited to leave a few
times until she showed up. It’s just those sorts of
random acts that this City is known for and why the
people in San Francisco are just so incredibly cool.

• Remember also to make some Parking Karma Deposits, and the spots tend to open up seemingly magically. Many people think that parking is all about luck, but I believe that karma, the laws of attraction, and the butterfly effect (for the scientific crowd) work in all directions depending on your actions...in your favor...and not. Boost your parking Karma through daily conscious and courteous acts while behind the wheel.

SECRET SWEET SPOTS & HIDDEN PITFALLS

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHALK TALK

Everyone by now should know about checking for chalk on your tires. The DPT puts chalk on the bottom of your tire when you are parked, and will come back in 1 hour or 2 hours (whatever the restriction is). If when they return, they see the chalk on your tire, you will get a ticket for exceeding the time limit. Okay, most people know that one. However, the DPT is now emplying crafty methods to keep track of you, without using chalk. In some neighborhoods, they will circle around writing down license plates, and car positions. You will come out and see that there is no chalk, and think that you have another 2 hours, and then come back and find that you have a ticket, with no chalk marks.DPT also is using technology that narks the GPS location of your vehicle to accomplish the same goal as above.

There is a rule that you must move your vehicle 1/8 of a mile, which is about 2 blocks. Even if you move up one space, you can still get a ticket for exceeding the 2 hour time limit.

 

THE 100 FOOT RULE

Parking signs are enforced for 100 feet in each direction.  This is a little known rule that is important to remember, so remember it. Parking signs are enforced for 100 feet in each direction.  There, now you’ve heard it twice.  Why is it so important you ask?  Well, this rule is a large reason for people receiving, and not receiving parking tickets. 

It fits right into our well-oiled defense mechanism of denial.  We find a parking spot, pull in, no meter, no red curb, we park, lock the door, and go about our business…excellent!  We don’t want anything to ruin this moment, this victory, this opalescent ray of sunshine. 

We don’t want to, almost cannot bear seeing a restriction that will rip this victory out of our clutches.  We all know…that feeling.   And, as a result, I believe that we, as a collective psyche, have driven the 100-foot rule deep into unconscious slumber.
 
We get back to our car, and of course, find a ticket, and say to ourselves, “But I didn’t know….it wasn’t clear…that’s so unfair…60 bucks?...@#%$!”  So, for the third and final time, waking you from the collective victory dream… Parking signs are enforced for 100 feet in each direction.   So, the traffic police won again?  “I’m a loser…another 60 bucks.”    And again, the fight for a parking spot is over? 
“Over? Did you say ‘over’? Nothing is over until we decide it is!  Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!”

All hope is not lost my friend.  We can turn this into our favor.  Turn night to day.  The parking gods will light the fire when we lose our way.  How?  Well, let’s use the rule in our favor.  There are more than a few places in the City where, for whatever reason, maybe oversight, maybe construction and then oversight, restrictive parking signs have been left out, pulled out, knocked out, or forgotten about. 

In tough parking neighborhoods, such as North Beach, that are blanketed with restrictions, there are gaps, where signs are not placed within 100 feet of parking spots.  In this situation, you may park here, all day…and all night  Actually, for three days and nights…safely, and freely.  No coins, no tickets, no hurry, no worry.  Freedom my friend.  Let us sound the cry of victory.  Where are these gaps?  Everywhere...you just have to poke around.

 

 

CURB YOUR WHEELS!
You must curb your wheels when the grade of the street is at least what percent?

A) 0%

B) 3%

C) 20%

D) 25%

E) 50%

The Answer is B) 3%


This infraction is being cited more and more frequently these days because the City needs your money, and it is an easy one to give a ticket for. The law states that wheels must be curbed if there is a 3% grade or higher on the street. Ok, but what does that mean? 3% of what? A 3% grade means that the street is sloped at 1.72 degrees. An apple would have a difficult time rolling down a street sloped at 1.72 degrees. It looks pretty much flat. So, unless you have a protractor in your glovebox, do yourself a favor and save $50 by making it a habit to curb your wheels every time you park.

Curbing your wheels actually is important on the hills of SF because if your transmission should slip, or your parking brake should fail, the pressure of the wheels against the curb will act as a block, and prevent the vehicle from running away down the hill. Parking brakes are simply a piece of thin cable that uses pressure to clamp two small pieces of metal to your brake drum or disc. They have been known to fail. After all the hard work and strategy that you’ve exerted to find a parking space, make sure that you don’t lose it to gravitational force.

This is not how you want to get your 15 minutes of fame.

If you have a stick shift, park in first gear or better yet, in reverse and use your parking brake. If your car is an automatic, using your parking brake is good practice too. Please note: you can receive a ticket if your wheels are curbed, but not curbed properly.

Follow these instructions to curb your wheels properly whenever parked on a hill:

When facing downhill with a curb: Turn your steering wheel all the way to the right (clockwise) so the front of the curbside front tire will touch the curb when you take your foot off the brake.

When facing uphill with a curb: Turn your steering wheel far to the left (counter-clockwise), so the back of the curb-side front tire will touch the curb.

When facing uphill or downhill with no curb: Turn your steering wheel to the right. (Think about it).

If you feel that you have been wrongly cited, you can check out the exact slope of any street in San Francisco on this interactive map. Go to the “Mapped Streets of San Francisco”here.