- Greg Sherwood, KQED Radio
"When I first heard about it, I thought there was no way that somebody could write an entire book about parking in San Francisco. But this guy has actually done it. This is a cool little book!"

List of Secret Spots

In the book, we give you the link to the ever-growing collection of secret free parking spots all over the City (organized by neighborhood) that have been discovered by our team, and shared by your fellow citizens. In the book, you will find out how to access to this magical and invaluable list.

Here is a sneak peek of some secret spots discovered by our team.

Best Parking in the Financial District

Valet parking costs $10-$12, parking in a garage will cost you $10-$24. But you shouldn't have to spend more than $3/hour. That's the rate at the yellow loading zone meters on Steuart and Spear Streets. "I can't park in the yellow truck zone moron, I'll get towed," I hear you say. Incorrect my friend. Truck zone meters (yellow meters, with a yellow curb in front of them) vary in when they are in operation. These meters on Steuart and Spear Streets are only for trucks until 11a.m. They then are general meter parking from 11a.m. on. There is also a few at Union Square, but for those, you'll have to buy the book and get access to the secret list.



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.



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.



For Levi's employees, or for the news people without parking garage priviliges, or anyone near the 800 block of BatterySt... on 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 to park in the one on the corner and not the one in front of the garage.


Best Free Ballpark Parking

That one is a secret...but can be your secret, if you buy the book. It will be delivered in one day if you live in the Bay Area.

"This is an incredibly thorough and thoroughly well-researched book."
- Green Apple Bookstore
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  2016 San Francisco Parking Ticket Revenue
Finding the Sweet Spot offers practical and creative solutions to the most aggravating, frustrating, and intimidating aspect of the San Francisco urban experience: PARKING! *
Parking Question?
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Previous "Tips Of the Week"


If you would like to receive a new SF parking tip each week, click here.

                                             The 100 Foot Rule


Dear Parking Guru,

Last Saturday I was driving down Broadway toward its intersection with Columbus and I saw a single vacant parking spot on the corner (every other spot was taken). It was about 6:30 p.m. on a Saturday night in North Beach, I thought, wow I am lucky to get this spot.

Later when I came back from the restaurant, my car was missing. It was towed by AutoReturn. I checked the meter. The sign on the meter said that it was in effect only from 9 am to 6 pm, so, WTF? I found out later there was a sign way down the street that stated, "Towing after 8 p.m.".

My question: Is there any way for me to fight the towing ticket based on the fact that I was deliberately mislead by parking authorities? Is this not a clever misleading trap for a motorist?

Any person with common sense could have parked there, couldn't they?


Dear Igor,

I investigated the scene of the crime. The info on the meter did indicate that it was in effect only from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. And, when you were there, every other spot was taken and the other cars were parked at similar meters, so I totally can understand how you thought that you had struck gold. There were two non-obvious and non-common sensical things that got you towed.

The first thing that got you was the unique parking restrictions for those few blocks on Broadway. There is no parking from 8 pm Friday until 4 am Saturday, and from 8 pm Saturday until 4 am Sunday. In essence, there is no parking Friday and Saturday nights. I believe that this is due to the large police presence in the red light district on weekend nights, and that's a very convenient and central location to park their paddy wagons.

That sign was posted down the street from where you parked as you said, so here is the second thing that got you - The 100–foot rule. I believe that this little known rule must be responsible for at least 25% of all parking tickets issued. The law states that, "...each sign's enforcement zone extends for 100 feet in each direction." The only point I can see that might be a good defense for getting a ticket like Ivan did is that there is no sign posted anywhere in the City that states this 100 foot law.

However, not knowing about it might be a well-oiled defense mechanism of parking denial. We finally find a parking spot, pull in, no red curb, no driveway, no hydrant, no loading zone. We park, lock the door, and go about our business...excellent! We don't want anything to ruin this moment, this victory, our victory, one for the little man, an opalescent ray of sunshine spotlighting us. We don't want, nor can we bear to see any 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 our unconscious mind.

Here's how to avoid falling prey to this law: When you park, take a minute to look up and down your side of the street to see if there are any signs within 100 feet, and then heed their warning. Even though there is not a sign right where you park, you must take a look up and down the block for 100 feet to be sure that there are no enforceable signs. Most people don't carry tape measures in their glove compartment (except for my brother and I for this very reason), so here is a good rule of thumb: the average car is perhaps 15 feet long, so checking for parking signs seven or eight car lengths in each direction from where you parked, should be about 100 feet.

The good news is, you can use this rule to your advantage. In some situations, this is a slam dunk way to get a parking ticket thrown out. If the sign which was responsible for your ticket was more than 100 feet away, it is not enforceable.

More good news is that there are spots all over the City that are 100+ feet away from any restrictive signs and therefore are completely free to park in (for 72 hours). They are hidden in plain sight. I've created a secret page on the website that lists many of these spots. In order to see the list, simply share a golden spot that you found, and then you get access to all of the spots all over the City that that were shared by others.



Parking Karma
Rules and structure are indeed essential for an orderly society to function smoothly and especially if that orderly society needs to find a place for half a million cars to park. But, the greater the number and the more complex the rules, the harder and more frustrating it becomes to follow them. This city of ours is phenomenally unique, and parking in this city of ours is a unique phenomenon. With 2 million parking tickets given out per year, 470,000 vehicles roaming the streets and only 320,000 street parking spots, parking is an act that requires significant concentration and, on some days, can require absolute cunning, and nearly transcendental calm.

There's a Zen koan that tells us that in life, there will be obstacles blocking our pursuit of happiness. And that ironically, these very obstacles themselves are the path to happiness. These obstacles bring up anger and frustration because we want to be happy now. We want our needs met now. We want a parking place now. Once the obstacle is overcome, we have a brief impression of everlasting happiness...until we come up against the next obstacle and start the process all over again.

According to Zen folk, the navigation around and through these obstacles is where we learn to minimize suffering, and thus create more space and time for happiness. And parking is the perfect obstacle with which to practice! By going into a rage or a panic, we lose our cool and often miss the joy of what is happening right in front of us (for instance, the joy of the people that we are with or the joy surrounding the event we are about to attend, or quite possibly, the joy of an available parking spot). An obstacle such as looking for a parking space can cause negativity that can carry a dark energetic and emotional cloud into the rest of our day and adversely affect our relationships without us even knowing that it was the catalyst. Or, it can be the very thing to help us cultivate patience, and even a sense of humor. It's all about how we deal with daily difficulties. With awareness, these challenges can be used as tools taking us into each moment present, relaxed, and with joy surrounding us.

Parking Karma
Karma is a belief that the fruits and rewards of our actions are directly connected to the pain and/or joy that our actions bring others. "Traditionally, Karma is the record of all actions from all lives, the consequences for which are determined by the intentions of the act, not the consequences of the act." It's not about punishment; it's about our intent of our actions, and the impact of our actions on others that comes back to us.

This means that you actually have control over your parking Karma account, which you can compare to a bank account. Your actions have impact on others, and your impact on others impacts your karma account - courtesy makes a deposit in your account; spot-stealing and road rage make a withdrawal by your negative actions coming back to you in another form.

Here's an example a friend shared with me recently: She was circling in North Beach looking for parking so she could meet up with her friends. No luck. Up and down, back and forth on Columbus Avenue she went. She wanted to catch the green light up ahead, but there was a pedestrian trying to cross a block before. But, she stopped to let him cross and because of it, she missed the light. Damn. However, on her next pass down Columbus, the very same man flagged her down and asked her if she was looking for a parking spot. She said that she was, and he said, "I'm parked right up there, and I'm leaving. You were the only person who stopped to let me cross at that crosswalk. Come and take my spot." So, if you're having a tough time looking for parking, try making a few deposits into your Karma account, and see if your luck doesn't change. I'll bet you a quarter that it does. To find out more about parking karma, to explore some other perspectives of parking, or to learn how to never get a parking ticket again, click here.

If you would like to receive a new SF parking tip each week, click here.

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Hi David,

I have a question for you. I work on the 3200 block of Van Ness. The parking in front of the building is an island in the center of the street, there are spots on each side of the island, and there is a 4-hour limit. Last week I lucked out and found a spot right in front of the building. Four hours later I went to move my car and somebody four spots down happened to be moving at the same time so I took that spot. Well, I got a ticket saying I parked over the 4 hour limit. Not true, I moved my car 4 spots away. Is that legal to just move a few spots down and park for 4 more hours or is there a restriction? Or did the meter maid just have me logged on that block and I got a ticket because they thought I was in the same spot?
Not only is the parking in front of the building 4 hours, the parking the rest of the way down Van Ness toward the pier is also 4 hour parking so I want to be sure I understand the law so I don't get another ticket.

Thanks for your help!
E. R.

Dear E.R.,

Sorry about your ticket. It's such a drag to spend your hard earned money on a parking ticket. Exceeding the posted time limit is a parking violation that 41,932 people were cited for last year and fined $60. You were partially correct in that the parking officer had you logged into that block, and that there is a restriction. The law is that you have to move to another block, not a few spots up or down the block, or even to the other side of the street, but you have to cross a cross street and park on an entirely new block.strong> The DPT officers used to use chalk (and some still do) to put a mark on your tire and then come back to see if you've overstayed your welcome. People would just wipe it off, or move a few spots, or roll their tires half a rotation to hide the chalk.

Now, most officers have handheld electronic tracking computers that will log your license plate as being parked on a specific block. When they come back to that block in 2 or 4 hours, if you are still parked anywhere on that block, you will get a ticket. And, while they're at it, they will check to see if you've racked up a number of unpaid citations, and if so, will order a boot for your car. I know of one crafty DPT officer that will use chalk as a decoy in conjunction with the electronic tracker. So, you move your car a little to rotate the tire to hide the chalk, and come back to find a parking ticket, and are puzzled as to how they knew.

Thanks for writing E.R.. Most people don't know about this law and many others. That's why close to 2 million tickets are given out each year, and also why I thought of compressing all that pertinent information into a user-friendly reference book. If you'd like your very own with all the rules, tips and tricks that neither your mother, your father, nor your parking instructor told you about, click here.

If you would like to receive a new SF parking tip each week, click here.  

Photo Courtesy Of Mike Licht @flickr


 SFpark Experiment (Part Deux)


SFMTA has unveiled their plans for the next phase of SFpark which will be arriving "later this year".  This phase will add technology allowing drivers to pay for parking by phone at all 26,000 meters in San Francisco, not just the 5500 SFpark meters in pilot areas.

This phase, like the first phase, will be partially funded through the Department of Transportation's Urban Partnership Program, which is funding 80% of the SFpark pilot program.

Chairman of the SFMTA Board of Directors, Tom Nolan stated that, "Anything we can do to make it easier for folks to pay at the meter furthers our goal of helping our customers get to their destinations quickly and easily."

The one really excellent and handy feature that can actually save  drivers from getting a parking ticket is that customers paying by phone (any phone, not just an iPhone) will receive a text message reminder before their meter expires, and they will be given the option of adding time to their meter remotely (subject to time limit restrictions).

Here's the part that is going to go over like sand in your sandwich:
The total price will include the regular meter rate (which could be a regular rate of up to $6 per hour and as much as $18 per hour for special events) plus a "convenience fee" of up to 45 cents per transaction.  The almost half a dollar surcharge per transaction will not even go to SFMTA, but to a private vendor, Verrus Mobile Technologies, who will provide the pay by phone service.

45 cents may seem like nothing but let's take a closer look: If the 26,000 meters in the City are used just 4 times per day, that's about 100,000 meter transactions per day and about half a million transactions per week.  If just 25 percent of these transactions are utilizing the pay-by-phone feature and are charged the 45 cent "convenience fee", that comes out to about three million dollars in "convenience fees" per year going to a private vendor.  I'm not a rocket scientist, but I believe that some of the rocket scientists and programming geniuses in the Bay Area could build a pay-by-phone system for SFMTA for a few million dollars, and then after that, the 3 million dollars would go to our City. 

As much as I love cool apps, and while I love the possibility of getting a text letting me know that my meter is about to expire, I don't think I would use this feature if it's going to cost me half a dollar each time.  I think I'll just use my tried and true method of setting an alarm on my phone each time I park to remind me to feed the meter or move my car.

If you would like to receive a new SF parking tip each week, click here.     Bookmark and Share

For everything you ever wanted to know about parking (tips tricks, and free secret spots), all in one handy book, click Here.


Parking Tips: Start a Revolution, Never Get a Ticket Again

Over the last few months, as I've shared more and more information about parking in SF, I've received an increasing number of emails wondering when the parking ticket revolution is going to happen. Many people are outraged with the increases in meter fees, increases in fines, and the past mismanagement of the SFMTA, such as their wasting half a billion dollars by giving away free parking and other perks for public employees over the last 10 years.
With city officials admitting that they use parking tickets as a form of taxation; 2 million parking tickets handed out per year totaling 100 million dollars; 90,000 cars towed per year; huge recent increases in fees, fines, and penalties; San Francisco having the highest government union pension plans, salaries, and benefits - and the worst roads; it makes sense that there is a growing call for action, and all of the above are valid reasons for wanting to start an organized protest and revolution.

Okay. I'm down. Let's do it. Revolution it is! It won't be all that difficult to get the attention of the powers that be and bring an end to the parking "tax". It's a simple plan, but will be incredibly effective. It will take conscious effort, and will require spreading the word and supporting your fellow revolutionaries. Ready? Okay….the plan is…starting right now, everyone reading this….never get a parking ticket again…help your friends do the same, and spread the word.

I'm serious. It fits nicely into the revolutionary philosophies that, "Action expresses priorities." And, "A 'No' uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a 'Yes' merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble." If you are outraged with the price of parking tickets and the number of them handed out per year, then fight the good fight by never getting a parking ticket again. I'll agree that this plan is not as sexy as other revolutionary acts and protests, but can be just as effective.

How can you never get a parking ticket again? Start off by doing these 5 things, and share them with others to make sure that they know them too.

1. Every time you park, look up and down the street for 100 feet. (That's the legal distance for which all parking restriction signs are enforced.) Read the sign, and heed its warning.

2. Know what day and time it is. Then read the signs and do the math. Remember, if you're out dancing on a Tuesday evening, at 12:00 a.m. Tuesday becomes Wednesday.

3. Set an alarm on your phone when you park. If you live where there is weekly street sweeping, set an alarm to go off every week the night before street sweeping, and the morning of street sweeping, to remind you. When you feed the meter, set an alarm for 5 minutes before it expires. If you park in a commuter tow zone, set your alarm for 2:55 p.m.

4. Get a parking Smart Card so you will never again get a ticket for not having enough change.

5. Know the rules, especially the ones that nobody told you such as: The 3% grade rule; the 72 hour rule; the 1/8th of a mile rule; the difference between no stopping, no standing, and no parking; when you can and when you can't park in a red, yellow, white, or green zone; how to protest an incorrect ticket; etc.

To get your own parking revolution handbook click here.    Bookmark and Share



What percentage of the streets of San Francisco are officially in "poor condition"?

A) 3%
B) 27%
C) 33%
D) 61%
E) 100%

Answer: D) 61%

For 5 Bonus Points:
Where do the streets of San Francisco rank nationally?

A) 49th
B) Worse than Boston and New York
C) Tied for Second Worse
D) All of the above
E) None of the above

Answer: D) All of the above


Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Potholes, but Were Afraid to Ask...

Is it me, or are there a lot more potholes out there? I did some investigation, and determined that it isn't just me. There are actually over 2.7 gazillion more potholes today on our streets then there were last year.

Age, weather, moisture, traffic, heavy trucks, and delayed maintenance cause roads to deteriorate. Roads like ours that were built over 50 or more years ago with less sophisticated construction materials are reaching a point of exponential deterioration. Patching potholes here and there just doesn't cut it anymore. The problem is not just with the asphalt surface, but with the substructure of the roads.

The crown of a street and the emulsifying agents, together, beautifully work at repelling water only until there is a compromise in the pavement. Potholes (chuckholes, chunkholes, kettles, and tire-eaters by their aliases) are all formed basically the same way--traffic wear, old age, heat, and sunlight cause cracks to form in the water-repelling surface of the street. Once there is a crack, water seeps into the pavement, and erodes the sub-surface layers, creating an air gap or pocket below the surface. Water collects in this pocket and in colder climates expands and contracts in freeze-thaw cycles. In our more temperate climate the sheer volume of ground saturating water that we get in a short amount of time from the winter rains washes out the lower layers of stone and dirt, which support the surface layer. Then a heavy truck drives over the subsurface pocket and Voila!...a pothole is born. That's why so many of them appear in the Winter months. And if left unrepaired, by springtime they've grown much larger.

A trillion dollars have been spent since the Eisenhower administration to build roads and keep them in working condition. But the real problem is the aging substructure of the roads compounded by the growing amount of travel upon them.
· The country's 240 million registered vehicles drive more than 2.9 trillion miles annually.
· Nearly 24 million children ride 450,000 school buses 180 days per year.
· A fire department responds in one or more vehicles to a fire alarm in the United States every 20 seconds.
· Delivery vehicles in the United States carry 64 billion pounds of goods per day.

A recent report by the American Association of State Highway Transportation states that, "…despite the recent downturn in travel in 2008, the number of miles driven on the nation's roadways has increased 41 percent from 1990 to 2007. Large commercial truck traffic, which places significant stress on pavements, has increased 50 percent during the same time frame." But many roads, particularly in metropolitan areas and population growth centers, are in poor condition. So, how do San Francisco's roads fair? Take a guess.

The San Francisco and San Jose metropolitan areas were tied for second worst in the nation behind Los Angeles. Even Boston, the land of a million potholes, which even has a notorious pothole with it's own Facebook page (I kid you not), ranks far higher than we do. 61% of San Francisco's roads are in poor condition, 22% are fair, 4% are mediocre, and only 13% are in good condition.

TRIP, a national travel research group, estimates that for the average driver, roads that are in poor condition add $335 annually to typical vehicle operating costs. In San Francisco, the high concentration of poor roads adds an average of $705 to the maintenance of each vehicle.

But, there is a silver lining that makes San Francisco amazing yet again, and can ease your pain. If your vehicle is damaged from a pothole, or other road hazard, you can make a claim to the City Attorney's office and be reimbursed for your expenses. I've done this…it really works. You must note specifically where the predatory pothole or hazard is, and you must show evidence of the damage. A claim must be filed within 6 months of the incident.

To make a claim, click here.

If your appetite for road knowledge is still not satiated, and you'd like to know where the first asphalt road was built 4600 years ago, and learn the best tips, tricks and secrets on how to find a parking place in San Francisco, pick up a copy of the book. You'll find it all in the book! Click here to get one for yourself or a friend!     Bookmark and Share



When "No" Means "Sometimes"

Can you park in front of this sign?

A) No way. That's why it's all like orange and red.

B) Totally, if there isn't any construction going on it means that it's okay.

C) I'm not sure, it's one of those construction zone thingies and I don't
know what all the rules are with those things. I don't want to get towed.

D) Yes, but only if it is not within the enforceable dates and/or times posted.

E) None of the above all of the time.

F) All of the above some of the time.

Answer: F) All of the above some of the time.

"No Parking" signs attached to construction saw horses or parking meters can be beacons of hope when looking for a place to park. They are used for construction, moving trucks, festivals and even sometimes for scheduled large home deliveries. These signs are one of my absolute favorite places to park. Most people immediately dismiss and drive right by them, but I drive straight for them. Don't assume that because a sign exists, it means you can't park there.

These signs must be put in place three days before their enforcement is valid. And, they are also often negligently left behind after the job is finished, sometimes for weeks. Pull up to the spot, and read the posted days and times on the paper sign. Also, read the fine print. The conscious and considerate construction companies will add a small line of text stating, "If work has not begun by noon, parking is allowed".

Be careful though, if the spot is vacant, it doesn't always mean it is available. It could mean that a dump truck, or a truck delivering a Wurlitzer organ, is just around the corner and about to park in its reserved space. If you are in the spot, you will be ticketed and towed in a heartbeat. I was looking for a spot near my destination on March 10th when I saw the sign posted above. I drove straight for it, and read the dates and times. Free parking once again in under 30 seconds!

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Winter Parking

With snow in the forecast for this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to give a brush up tutorial on how to properly curb your wheels. Last year, there were 59,533 citations given out for uncurbed wheels or for wheels not curbed properly. So, on our hilly streets, it is a good idea to habitually curb your wheels, not just when parked on a hill, and not just when snow is in the forecast, but whenever you park.

An emergency brake is just a think wire that lightly clamps your brake drum. They have been known to break. Curbing your wheels is the backup plan if your car does start rolling. If you make it a habitual action, then you can always rest assured that this will not be the reason that you make it on the front page of the Chronicle for your fifteen minutes of fame. And, you will never be given a parking ticket for it.

The law states that wheels must be curbed if there is a 3% grade or higher on the street. Anyone know how big a 3% grade is? A free book to the first person who does. It's not that much. A 3% grade is actually 1.72 degrees (relative to a 45 degree ramp). It looks totally flat. So, unless you have a protractor in your glove compartment or surveying tools in your trunk, do yourself a favor and save $55 by making it a habit to curb your wheels.

Follow these instructions whenever parked on a hill on the right side of the street
• When facing downhill with a curb: Turn the
steering wheel all the way to the right (clockwise) so the front of the curbside front tirewill touch the curb when you take your foot offthe brake.
• When facing uphill with a curb: Turn your steering wheel far to the left (counter-clockwise), so the back of the curbside 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 driving a stick shift:
Because you don't have a "P" gear, always park in first gear, or better yet reverse. On a steep street, if parked in second gear or higher, your car can more easily start moving down the street.
• Or to make it easy to remember, memorize this little phrase shared by a fellow San Franciscan: Parking in San Francisco is downright uplifting.

Follow these instructions whenever parked on a hill on the left side of the street
• When facing downhill with a curb: Turn thesteering wheel all the way to the left (counter-clockwise) so the front of the curbside front tirewill touch the curb when you take your foot off
the brake.
• When facing uphill with a curb: Turn your steering wheel far to the right (clockwise), so the back of the curbside front tire will touch the curb.
• When facing uphill or downhill with no curb:
Turn your steering wheel to the left. (Think about it).
• If driving a stick shift:
Because you don't have a "P" gear, always park in first gear, or better yet reverse. On a steep street, if parked in second gear or higher, your car can more easily start moving down the street.

If you do ever receive a citation for not curbing your wheels, and you think that the street is less than a 3% grade, this is a legitimate complaint, and you can win the fight. For this very reason, I put a link on the resources page of my website where you can check out the slope of any street in San Francisco. To check it out, click here

President's Day Parking

What Is Not Enforced
• Commuter Tow-Away Zones
• Residential Permit Zones
• M-F Daytime Street Sweeping

What Is Enforced
• Parking Meters
• 7-Day Street Sweeping


Parking Tax Declared!

The Deputy Director of parking enforcement for the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said earlier this week that parking citation revenues are down this fiscal year, so parking enforcement officers will be issuing more citations to make up for the shortfall. We've all known, that since that fateful day of August 21, 1947 parking meters and tickets were seen as a cash cow, and in essence are a tax. But, no public official has ever stated that. It was actually refreshing to hear someone tell the truth and to not see the SFMTA do the old political two-step. So, yes the cat is out of the bag, San Francisco needs to give out 2 million+ parking tickets a year, and make $100 million dollars from citations in order to keep its budget balanced, and the "parking taxes" will be increased.

The Deputy Director then outlined the SFMTA plan to generate more revenue:

The biggest and most effective change could start as early as next month for the most cited parking violation- street sweeping. Cameras will be mounted on street sweeping vehicles to capture your license plate number if you are parked illegally on street sweeping day, resulting in your receiving a citation by mail.

Soon, parking at broken parking meters could be limited to 2 hours max. This is not such a big deal because the old law stated that you could park at a broken meter only for the meter's max time limit. This rule was implemented for one reason that I can see: Some of the new smart meters have no time limit, so under the old rule, if one of these meters was broken, then you could park there for free, forever. People were outraged last month when the Board Supervisors were considering making it illegal to park at a broken meter at all. They are still deciding what they will be, but it looks like they will settle on 2 hours. Be careful though, this is the proposed maximum limit, not a blanket rule. This means that at a one-hour meter that is broken, you can only park there for one hour. And, while we're at it, also remember, the traffic code states that you may only park at a functioning meter for the time limit posted. So, if you have been parked for more than 2 hours at a 2-hour meter, even though you've replenished it with fresh quarters for the second 2 hours, you can be cited for overstaying your welcome.

Shorter grace periods for tow-away zones will be implemented. The grace period in the old days was 10 minutes. The new grace period is 5 minutes.

Traffic officers will be handing out more gridlock citations during rush hour. No complaints here regarding this one. However, this should not be enforced when you get bamboozled by someone turning right on red, as you are crossing the intersection, cutting ahead of you, and leaving you stuck in the middle.

It's time to find other ways to balance the MUNI budget. It's risky to depend on money that has such a big variable. Theoretically, it is possible that no parking tickets could be given out, if everyone paid attention and knew the rules I believe that there is a shortfall in traffic citation revenue because the fines have become so ridiculous that people are actually paying more attention to the parking rules. Parking laws such as the 72-hour law, the 100-foot law, and the 3% law are becoming better known, less frequently cited, and ticketing cars isn't like shooting fish in a barrel for DPT officers anymore. The City was actually making more money 5 years ago when the parking fines were less costly because a ticket didn't hurt as much as it does now. I believe that the critical mass of revenue and of frustration has been reached. If San Francisco continues to push the envelope and shake every last nickel from drivers' pockets (such as charging for parking on Sunday), at some point, a tipping point will be reached, and perhaps we will see SF drivers take a page out of the bicyclists' handbook and start some critical mass protesting of their own.



Signs and curbs are straightforward and easy to understand, right? Not always. And, the 1,932,416 parking citations issued last year confirm it. Have you ever gotten a ticket and felt that it was unwarranted, but after carefully reading (then re- reading) the wording on the sign or curb, you finally realized that you were indeed in the wrong? Let's take a look at just how many restricted curbs are out there and break down what they mean shall we? First, let's test your knowledge:

Put these curbs in order from most to least.

A) Green Zones
B) Blue Zones
C) White Zones
D) Yellow Zones
E) Taxi Zones


1) 3992 Yellow Zones
2) 1614 White Zones
3) 556 Blue Zones
4) 367 Green Zones
5) 58 Taxi Zones

Let's take a look at our winner shall we…

Truck Loading Zones
There were 48,888 yellow zone violations handed out last year. These zones were created for delivery vehicles to load and unload their goods. The times that any particular loading zone is in effect is written on the curb, meter, and/or nearby sign. If you've ever had a delivery job, or have been stuck in traffic because a truck is double parked on a busy street, then you probably understand the importance of yellow curbs. It's really very simple…but made unnecessarily difficult by DPT. The simple part is that you just need to read the words painted on the curb, or on the sign below the meter. However, SFMTA has placed most of these signs at an angle that makes it nearly impossible to read from your car.

Okay, that's how not to get a ticket. Here's how you can use the rules and laws to your advantage. Most people are just cruising by empty yellow zone parking spots, assuming that they are in effect until 6 p.m. Usually, these zones are in effect from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, there are times and places where yellow zones become golden zones. On some streets, such as Steuart, the loading zone meters are only in effect until 11 a.m. when they become available for general parking. It's amazing to watch people cruising right past them and opting to pay $12 for valet parking or $15 for a garage instead. I think it's because of the assumption that loading zones are only from 9a.m. to 6 p.m. Just another little way where you can use inside info to your advantage.

If you would like to receive a new SF parking tip each month, click here.

You'll find these tips and so much more in the book! click here to get one for yourself or a friend. One day delivery in the Bay Area!


There's a sucker born every minute" is a phrase often credited to P. T. Barnum (1810–1891).  However, P.T.’s friends and acquaintances said that it was a statement very much out of character for him.  It’s now thought to have been a quote attributed to Barnum by an unscrupulous newspaperman in an attempt to discredit him.  Barnum never denied saying it, but thanked the newspaperman for the free publicity. 
Fascinating information Dave, thanks for the history lesson, but what does that have to do with parking?  Well, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but you may have been part of a parking ticket scam without even knowing it.  Perhaps more than once. 
There are three different scams going on in SF using parking as their base of operation.
The first one is one that most people are aware of.  When parking in a lot such as the ones along the Embarcadero, there are often imposters posing as parking attendants.  They will take your $8, be extremely polite, and wish you a good evening.  Upon returning, you find that you have received a citation for non-payment.  An easy way to avoid this is to read all of the signs usually posted at the entrance to the lot or at the kiosk.  Even if an attendant comes to take your money, before you give it to them, read all of the signs.  Many lots now have a sign letting you know that after a certain hour, there is no attendant, and money should be placed into a slot.   One has a sign with a photograph that says, “Do not give money to this man!”
The second parking scam currently in operation is much more elaborate.  There is a group of scoundrels creating fake parking tickets that look quite believable. They are putting them on cars (often ones that have committed a violation such as an  expired meter).  They’re hoping that the vehicle owner will see the ticket, grumble, and send  the money via a bogus website or phone number printed on the ticket and/or simultaneously give away personal information and download spyware that will allow them to fish for information.

How can you avoid being a victim to this scam? Easy. The only website where you can pay your citation to the city of San Francisco is at www.SFMTA.com or www.services.sfgov.org. The official mail-in address for SF parking citations is PO Box 7718 San Francisco 94120-7718, and the official pay by phone numbers are 415-701-3099 or 800-531-7357. Any other address, website, or phone number is bogus.
The third parking scam is an oldie, but a goodie.  It’s been around for quite some time, but perhaps long enough so as to become new again.  It’s that good.  While I don’t condone it, I do chuckle at the cleverness and simplicity of it.  Here’s how it goes.  Person A comes back from the shop and sees a parking ticket on the windshield of their white Honda Lexus. They say, “$65 dollars?!  I’m not paying that.”  So, they drive around for  a few blocks, until they see another white Lexus that looks just like their car, and....yup…you guessed it…they put their ticket on another person’s car.  Then they just wait a few weeks to see if you’ve paid it for them. 

How to avoid this one?  Easy.  Do you know your license plate number?  I’ll bet you a quarter you don’t. Most people don’t, so don’t feel bad.  But still, a bet is a bet, so send your quarter to me via 7x7 magazine.  Take a second right now and put your license plate number into your smart phone.  You’ll need it at the DMV, a hotel, or some other place, but the best reason to know it is to make sure that you haven’t paid somebody else’s parking ticket. Think back at all of the tickets that you’ve paid….did you check the license plate number? So, hopefully now there will be a sucker born every 2 minutes.     Bookmark and Share   


MLK Jr Holiday Parking

What Is Not Enforced
• Commuter Tow-Away Zones
• Residential Permit Zones
• M-F Daytime Street Sweeping

What Is Enforced
• Parking Meters
• 7-Day Street Sweeping

Free Holiday Parking!

December 1 - December 26 2010 10 a.m.- 6 p.m.
One hour of free parking with 3 occupants per vehicle, and two hours of free parking with 4 or more occupants per vehicle. The Civic Center Garage is participating in this program on Saturdays and Sundays only; the other seven garages are participating seven days a week.

-Ellis-O'Farrell Garage 123 O'Farrell   Street 415.986.4800
-Fifth & Mission Garage 833 Mission   Street 415.982.8522
-Sutter-Stockton Garage 444 Stockton   Street 415.982.7275
-Union Square Garage 333 Post Street   415.397.0631

Civic Center
-Civic Center Garage (Saturday &   Sunday only) 355 McAllister Street   415.863.1537

Marina District
-Lombard Street Garage 2055   Lombard Street 415.440.1984

-Mission-Bartlett Garage 3255 21st   Street / 90 Bartlett   Street 415.821.6715

-Vallejo Street Garage 766 Vallejo   Street 415.989.4490

For the Christmas and New Years Parking Enforcement Schedule Click Here

Where Is My Car?

Stolen vs. Towed: The Good, The Bad, and The City

1) How many cars are towed per year in San Francisco?
A) 700
B) 7,000
C) 70,000
D) 700,000
E) 7,000,000

2) How many cars are stolen per year in San Francisco?
A) 600
B) 6000
C) 60,000
D) 600,000
E) 6,000,000


1) C 70,000 cars are towed by AutoReturn per year in SF.

2) B 6,000 cars are stolen per year in SF.

The good news is that if you find that your car is missing in San Francisco, it is 10 times more likely that it was towed rather than stolen.

The bad news is, that it's going to cost you about $400 to get it back. This is up from $188.25 just a few years ago. The towing fee is currently $199.25, and there is a City of San Francisco "Administrative Fee" of $186.50. I'll save you the trouble of calling up your calculator app…. That's about $14 million for AutoReturn, and a little over $13 million for the City each year.

If you are doubly unlucky, and your car is stolen, and then towed, the good news is that if you are a resident of SF, you will not have to pay the towing and storage fees. The bad news is that if you are not a resident of SF, and you want your car back, you will have to pay $385.75, then $59.75/day for every day your vehicle is stored. Every stolen vehicle that was towed in SF used to be exempt from towing and storage fees, but in 2005 a law was approved that only city residents should be exempt from paying the fees. It passed the Board of Supervisors 9-2.

The good news though is that the SF Metropolitan Area was not number one in stolen vehicles in the U.S.. It was seventh in 2009. The bad news is that it was ninth the year before.

Last year's top metropolitan areas with the highest rate of vehicle theft were:

1. Laredo, Texas
2. Modesto, CA
3. Bakersfield, CA
4. Stockton, CA
5. Fresno, CA
6. Yakima, Wa
7. SF Bay Area
8. Visalia, CA
9. Las Vegas, NV
10. Albuquerque, NM

And, the top 10 list of stolen vehicles last year:
1. 1994 Honda Accord
2. 1995 Honda Civic
3. 1991 Toyota Camry
4. 1997 Ford F-150 Pickup
5. 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup
6. 2000 Dodge Caravan
7. 1994 Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)
8. 1994 Acura Integra
9. 2002 Ford Explorer
10.2009 Toyota Corolla

Remember, this is a popular time of year to have your car broken into. Cars broken into are not very sexy cases for the police and will not receive much attention. Prevention is your best option. So, in order to not have your holiday season dampened by the Grinch, remember:

- Always lock your doors, even if you're just parking for a second.
- Put valuables in your trunk before you park not after.
- If you have a removable faceplate on your stereo…remove it.
- Don't leave attractive shopping bags inside your car, even if that Macy's
bag is full of dirty laundry, it will catch the attention of a thief.

Good luck this holiday season, and remember that while unfortunate things happen from time to time, having your vehicle ticketed or towed is 100 percent avoidable and in your power to prevent.     Bookmark and Share

Thanksgiving Parking

Parking enforcement rules on holidays in San Francisco are simple and straightforward except for one thing….they're not. The SF Department of Transportation lawmakers are lovers of the asterisk. However, fear not, I will expound on the asterisk that spoils the simplicity of what could be a simple holiday parking enforcement schedule.

• Commuter Tow-Away (ex. No Parking 3 p.m - 7 p.m Commuter Lane)
• Residential Permit
• M-F Daytime Street Sweeping (ex. Street Sweeping Thursday 8-10 a.m.)
• 7 Day Street Sweeping
• Parking Meters*
(Port Authority Meters will be enforced!)*

• Commuter Tow-Away (ex. No Parking 3 p.m -7 p.m Commuter Lane)
• Residential Permit
• M-F Daytime Street Sweeping (ex. Street Sweeping Friday 8-10 a.m.)

• 7 Day Street Sweeping
• Parking Meters (all meters)

Although it feels like a holiday, it is just a regular Saturday in the eyes of the DPT, and they will handout $250,000 worth of citations like they do every day, so be mindful.

*Parking is free and clear on Thanksgiving Day on most streets except at Port Authority meters and in some Port Authority zones which ARE enforced 7 days a week/365 days a year.

• Port Authority meters do not have a slot for the SFMTA payment card and say 7 days a week on them
• Port Authority signs will say Including Holidays

Why are Port Authority meters and zones different from regular San Francisco meters and zones? That, my friends, will be answered on another day.

For the seasoned veterans who are still reading and haven't conceded their $65, here are two places where it's easy to make an expensive mistake:

1) 7-day street sweeping always occurs after midnight and the sign will say "7 Days", or "Every Day". If you are out on Thursday night, which is a holiday, remember that at 12:00 a.m., it becomes Friday. So take a minute to think about this when you park.

2) Commuter lanes such as the ones along the Embarcadero, Fifth St., and Mission St., are not enforced on Friday. But remember, the meters are.

To find out where in the name of Peter, Paul, and Mary, the Port Authority meters are, click here and look at the key…any street in the yellow zone is Port Authority jurisdiction.

For more info, or a printable Holiday Parking Enforcement Schedule to keep in your glovebox,click here .


How many red light camera intersections are there in SF?

A) 2

B) 4

C) 24

D) 42

E) 142

Bonus Question (Essay)
How long does the typical red light last?


The Answer is C) 27

There were 796 non-fatal pedestrian injury collisions and 24 fatal pedestrian collisions on the streets of San Francisco last year. And 1.8 million intersection crashes nationally. Running red lights is the ultimate act of driving selfishly, and unless you're driving an ambulance, gives the lowest reward for the highest amount of risk taken.

I know it seems like each red light lasts absolutely forever, especially when you're in a hurry. Hopefully you will take some comfort in knowing that most red lights typically last for only 30 seconds (count for yourself). Just a few, in higher speed limit areas, are 45 seconds long. So next time you are stressed out, and squeezing the lemon to beat the red light….relax, take a break, do a 30 second red light meditation. Really. Try it.
The automatic digital red light cameras found at intersections cost about $40,000 each, and the whole units used at intersections cost about $300,000 per intersection. The City has 27 cameras rotated among 24 intersections and spent a little over $8 million on them. How can we afford that? Well, last year alone, there were 16,500 automatic red light violation citations issued. At $435 each, they generated $7 million in revenue. So, needless to say, the pilot program is here to stay, as it will generate millions of dollars a year for SF. And hopefully will heighten people's awareness, and save a life or two.

Here is a list of the 24 current red light camera intersections in the rotation in SF.
Bryant & Sixth
Bush & Van Ness
Ellis & Larkin
Folsom & First
Franklin & Geary
Harrison & Third, Fifth, and Eighth
Howard & Fourth, Fifth, and Ninth
Marina Boulevard & Lyon
Mission & Fifth, Seventh, and Fifteenth
Oak & Octavia
Park Presidio & Fulton, Geary, and Lake
Pine & Polk
Polk & Hayes
Richardson & Francisco
Sloat & Nineteenth
South Van Ness & Fourteenth

Free Reserved Parking Anytime, Anywhere

If you have to be at a regular place 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 arrive and park on the street near your location (btw you are allowed to park in front of a fire hydrant as long as you are in the car with the keys).  Remain in the spot and adjust all of your mirrors so you can see all around you on both sides of the street, and simply wait. “What are we waiting for smart guy?” You’re waiting for someone to leave their spot.  “Gee, that’s absolutely brilliant, I’m so glad I bought your book.”

Keep reading…here is the great 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. Even if we’re not punctual, and always running late for work, we’re usually habitually late leaving for work.  People tend to leave their house at close to the exact minute every morning.  People also have regularly appointments each week, or 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 the notes that you made, , circle around a bit, find one or two of the previously observed cars, and wait. Chances are that one of the people will be leaving their spot at exactly the same time they did yesterday.  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, just as they are walking up to their car.  Then pull right into your new, self-created, totally free, personal, reserved parking spot each day. 

This really works if you are patient.  Once a week I have to be at the same place at 1:00 p.m. At exactly 12:55 p.m., every Tuesday, I see this baker walking down the sidewalk smoking a cigarette, his day is done.  As he walks up to his car, there I am waiting in my car parallel to his, and when he leaves, I pull right into my reserved spot.  If you combine this, with a spot that is not restricted by any sign within 100 feet, then you have struck solid gold. Truly, it’s like having a $300 reserved spot for free.

Buy Cars Cheaply

A great place to find cars for sale is the weekly auction of abandoned and unclaimed vehicles that have been towed under authorization of the San Francisco Department of Parking and Traffic (DPT) or the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) at AutoReturn. They are the towing company that tows 90,000 cars per year from the streets of San Francisco. Every Wednesday at 10:00AM (doors open at 8:30AM) at AutoReturn's Impound Facility, Pier 70 (at the end of 22nd Street). Check out the "Towed Vehicles" link on the Resources page on this website for this or other great resources or click here for this Wednesday's auction list.

Can I park at a metered spot in San Francisco if the parking meter is broken?

This might be a refresher tip for some of you, but it is an important basic law of which most people have a misperception. And, like most parking laws, it's more complex than it seems. I receive about a dozen emails every month asking: Can I park at a metered spot in SF if the parking meter is broken?

So, what do you think? I bet less than half of your family, friends, and co-workers will know the answer.

Can I park at a metered spot in San Francisco if the parking meter is broken?
A) No, if you do this, you will be ticketed.
B) Of course you can, it's not your fault that it's broken. You can park there all day long for free.
C) Yes, but you still have to put the proper amount of coins in.
D) Yes, but you have to leave a note for the parking officer.
E) None of the above.
F) All of some of the above and some of all of the above...some of the time.

The answer is F) Some of the above, some of the time
The law states that you may park at a broken meter, but only for the posted time limit on that meter, up to 2 hours maximum.

Answer A) is a little bit true, as sometimes the parking police will give you a ticket, thinking that you are parked at an expired meter. If this happens, send in a letter along with the number of the meter, and your citation number and your ticket will be waived. I've done this.

Answer B) might be true if you are lucky, or the parking officer is not on top of their game. However, most parking officers will make a notation of your car and the broken meter, and when they come back around, if you are still parked there and the time limit is up, you will be ticketed. And remember, they don't just chalk your tires anymore, they make a notation in a computer, or on paper, so the "if there is no chalk on my tire I am safe" theory is not always true like in the old days.

Answer C) is not true, but a lot of people do it knowingly and unknowingly. Some people will dump in their 12 quarters only to find out that the meter is out of order. Other people put in the amount anyway, because they don't know the law and it makes them feel safer. Some people put a quarter in, it doesn't register, so they put another quarter in, just to be sure. These are the same people who drink some expired milk, and then ask you to taste it to make sure that it tastes bad.

Answer D) is not true, but is a good idea. If you cover the meter with a paper bag, or put a note on it, or your windshield, you will most definitely avoid the hassle of situation A) above.

And remember to watch out for some other parking enforcement sign that trumps the metered spot being legal whether the meter works or not, such as a commuter lane from 3PM to 7PM, a loading zone, or street sweeping.

So there you have it, your tip of the month. Feel free to write with any comments or questions.

Construction Zones (One of my absolute favorite places to park)
“No Parking” signs attached to construction saw horses or parking meters can be beacons of hope for you.  They are used for construction, moving trucks, festivals and even sometimes for scheduled large deliveries.  Don’t assume that because a sign exist, it means you can’t park there.  Most people drive right by these spots assuming that they are in effect.  Pull up to the spot, and read the posted days and times on the paper sign. 

These signs must be put in place up to three days before enforcement begins (remember the 72-hour law in the last chapter) and are also often negligently left behind after the job is finished.  So, just because there is a sign in place, it does not mean it is active and enforceable.  Also, read the fine print.  More considerate construction companies will add a small parenthetical line of text stating that if work has not begun by noon, parking is allowed.

I See My reflection...

Use the reflection in the window of the storefront next to your car to see just how close you are, and how much room you have. With the reflection in the window, you can park perfectly, not touching anybody else’s car, and look like a pro yourself.

More Sneaky Stuff the Parking Officers are up to

Most people are aware of DPT officers chalking tires as a marker of how long you have been parked in 2-hour zones. But, some may not know that DPT now frequently uses an electronic device into which they enter the block number and the license plate number of your car. So you may wipe off the chalk, or see no chalk at all, and still get a ticket.

Hardly anyone knows that DPT will chalk your tires and also enter your license number into the electronic device. The chalk is a decoy (I applaud their gamesmanship). You come out to wipe off the chalk thinking you are good for another 2 hours. But, when you return, you have not only received a $53 citation for being over the 2-hour limit, but also a $100 citation for wiping off the chalk (Yup, it is illegal to wipe off the chalk).

Hey, wait a minute, I moved my car to another spot and still got a ticket. How did that happen? Tune in next month...or read page 27 of the book...purchase it online, or at these FIne Bookstores.

Moving Day

If you are moving and using a truck, get a one day permit (called a "Temporary Reserve") from the permit officer at your neighborhood police station and have guaranteed parking for your truck! It's easy, inexpensive, and totally the way to go. And will guarantee that you have a spot saved right next to the front door, and you won't receive an obstructing traffic or double parking citation.

Is anybody ever really sure what’s a holiday and what’s not a holiday according to the San Francisco parking authorities.? Let’s test your holiday parking IQ.

Columbus Day:  Monday October 11, 2010
Are the parking rules in effect on the streets of San Francisco?

A) The Banks are closed, and the post office is closed, so of
course, parking restrictions are not in effect. 

B) A lot of people have to work,  including me. It’s not like the old days, when a holiday was a holiday, so of course the parking restrictions are in effect.

C) I have no idea, but I can’t afford getting a $65 ticket, or $400 for getting towed, so I’m following all of the rules.

D) The DPT parking officers are government employees, so they don’t have to work. So, who cares, there won’t be anyone working to enforce them.  Duh.

E) Some of the rules are in effect, and some of them aren’t but there is no way of knowing this, so it’s a crap shoot.

F) None of the above

The answer:

F) None of the above.

Yes, the banks and post office will be closed, and most people get the day off.  But, holidays are workdays for many DPT officers.  And with them knowing the rules and most drivers not knowing the rules, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel for them…another half a million dollar day!  So here is how to avoid getting a ticket on Columbus Day.

Monday October 11, 2010
SF Parking Enforcement Schedule:

What Is Not Enforced on Labor Day 2010:
Commuter Tow-Away Zones (ex. No Parking 3 p.m -7 p.m Commuter Lane)
Residential Permit Zones
M-F Daytime Street Sweeping (ex. Street Sweeping Tuesdays 8 a.m.-10 a.m.)

What Is Enforced on Labor Day 2010
7 Day Street Sweeping (ex. Street Sweeping 12:00 a.m. Every Day)
All Parking Meters

Seems pretty straight forward, but there are two places where it’s easy to make an expensive mistake.

1) 7 day street sweeping always occurs at night and the sign will say “7 Days”, or “Every Day”. If you are out on Sunday night, remember that at 12:00 a.m., it becomes Monday. So take a minute to think about this when you park.

2) Commuter lanes such as the one along the Embarcadero, are not enforced as usual on Monday. But remember, the meters are.

Put Your License Plate Number into your Cell Phone Address Book

There is an old creative scam happening more and more as the recession continues where people put their parking citation onto a similar make and model vehicle hoping that the person doesn’t know his or her license plate, and will just pay the fine. You may have paid for a ticket that wasn’t really yours, but from a similar vehicle...without knowing it. Do you know your license plate number?

It's also good to have your license plate number handy in case your car gets towed, stolen, when you check into a hotel, at DMV, etc. 

Beware of Fake Parking Tickets As the economy fallout grows, desperate people are finding more and more clever ways to get your money. Recently, there has been a wave of scoundrels putting fake parking tickets on your car hoping that you will send them money and/or download software onto your computer that will allow them to fish for information. The only website where you can pay your citation is at www.SFMTA.com or www.services.sfgov.org. The official mail in address is PO Box 7718 San Francisco 94120-7718, and the official pay by phone numbers are 415-701-3099 or 800-531-7357. Any other address, website, or phone number is bogus.

This zone is only in effect during the posted business hours.  The white zone is a fantastic place to park after or before business hours.  Check the times of business hours written on the curb or on the door of the establishments behind this zone. 

Many people think that you can’t ever park in a white zone.. So, if you see an empty space in a white zone on a busy night, don’t assume that it’s not a good spot.  That white could be white gold.  In front of movie theaters, strip clubs, restaurants, and around the Theater District, this tip is indeed golden when going to a show. 

Often times, one theater is not having a performance on the same night as another.  The sign states that there is “no parking during theater performances.”  Most people think, “We can’t park here because we’re going to a performance.”   If there is no show going on at that theater, you absolutely can park there.  The main event that evening will be you starring in “Easy Street.”


These are just the tip of the iceberg. For less than $10, you can have the Book in your mailbox in one day.

Holiday Parking

With many of us going out to dinner, to work parties, to friends' houses, to holiday parties, etc. be aware that many neighborhoods' 2-Hour Residential Zones are in effect until 9 pm. When you show up to a dinner party at 6:00 pm, it is dark and it truly feels like all of the DPT officers should be home by now. But this is not the case. They are keeping track of the 2-Hour Residential Zones as vigilantly as they do in the daytime. So, if you are in a zone that is enforced until 9pm, be sure that you move your vehicle at least one block, every 2 hours. Remember also, like we tell you in the book, having no chalk on your tire doesn't mean that you are safe, because DPT officers now keep track of the 2 hour limit with electronic devices. Once you park, set your alarm on your phone to remind you to move your car.

A bonus tip to go along with this one is when you park your car, look up and down the street for 100 feet. 100 feet is how far parking restriction signs are enforced. It is about 8 car lengths. You think you've scored a great spot, excellen ... congratulations...now take the 30 seconds to check for 100 feet up and down the sidewalk and be sure that there isn't a sign hidden behind a tree in the dark. This will prevent you from ruining your evening when you see a $63 holiday greeting card from DPT on your windshield, or better yet, a towed vehicle which will cost you $400 minimum.

New Year's Holiday Parking Tips

*San Francisco New Year's Holiday Parking Enforcement Schedule:

*New Year's Eve Business as usual. Everything is enforced on New Year's Eve.

*New Year's Day

What's Not Enforced on New Year's Day:

Commuter Tow-Away

Residential Permit

M-F Daytime Street Sweeping

7 Day Street Sweeping

Parking Meters

(Caution: Meters WILL BE ENFORCED at Port Authority Meters!)

What is Enforced on New Year's Day:

Port Authority Parking Meters are enforced 365 days a year.

*The Day After New Year's Day

It may feel like a holiday, but it isn't in the eyes of the DPT. It's just a regular Saturday. Everything is enforced as usual on January 2.

4th of July Parking

What's Not Enforced the 4th of July:
• Commuter Tow-Away
• Residential Permit
• M-F Daytime Street Sweeping
• 7 Day Street Sweeping
• Parking Meters
*****Caution: PARKING WILL BE ENFORCED at Port Authority Meters!
(To See Where Port Authority Parking is, click here)

What is Enforced on the 4th of July:
•Port Authority Parking Meters and signs are enforced 365 days a year.
•Specially marked spots for crowd control and emergency vehicles

Monday July 5th
It may be a holiday for many of you, but it isn't in the eyes of the DPT. It's just a regular Monday. Everything is enforced as usual on Monday July 5th.



The Number of SF Giants Managers and Coaches 7
The Number of SF Parking Control Supervisors and Managers 30

SF Annual Parking Ticket Revenue  $100 Million
2010 SF Giants PayRoll $90 Million

1 Ticket for a Giants Regular Season Premium Lower Box Seat $35
1 Parking Ticket for a Meter Violation in SF $65

Average Number of Runs Allowed per Game by 2010 Giants Pitchers 3 
Average Number of Annual Parking Tickets per SF Driver 4                  

Distance from AT&T Park to Napa 46 Miles  
Distance that Barry Bonds’ 762 HR Balls Have Traveled 51 Miles 

Number of Parking Tickets Issued in SF per Year 2 Million
Number of 2010 SF Giants Tickets Purchased 3 Million

These tips are just the tip of the iceberg. For less than $10, you can have the Book in your mailbox in one day.You'll find these tips and so much more in the book! click here to get one for yourself or a friend!

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Tip Of the Year

Smart Parking Cards:
Here is one of the best tips in the book! You've probably never even heard of it. I'll bet you a quarter. Consider this: If you park at a meter downtown for two hours, you will need to insert 24 quarters, or 60 dimes, or 120 nickels, or a combination of coins such as four quarters + 30 dimes + 40 nickels. Many citations are issued because people simply do not have that much change with them.

These pre-paid cards come in $20 and $50 denominations and work in every one of the 23,000 electronic meters owned by the city of San Francisco. They are available at cable car ticket booths and MUNI stations and at these places:

Buy Smart Parking Cards Online

Where to Buy Smart Parking Cards (by zipcode)

Where to Buy Smart Parking Cards (complete list)


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Copyright 2006-2014 David LaBua



                             Tip of the Year



VoicePark™ is the world's most advanced hands-free parking management system. VoicePark™ guides you by voice, turn-by-turn, to the nearest available parking spot using real-time information refreshed every second. Currently, VoicePark™ is in use for street parking in conjunction with the San Francisco pilot project, guiding you to 700 garages and lots and 11,250 on-street spots in 8 pilot areas in San Francisco. It is also available for guidance to 5 million off-street parking spots in parking garages and lots in over 30 U.S. cities. . It currently is available for the iPhone and iPod Touch. iPad and Android versions will be available soon.

To Visit the VoicePark Website Click Here

If you would like to receive a new SF parking tip each week, click here.


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