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Saturday, February 22, 2014

Street Parking in San Francisco - How to Avoid Careless Mistakes That Get You Parking Tickets

How to Avoid Parking Tickets in San Francisco

Avoiding parking tickets really boils down to reading the signs and using common sense.  Instead of thinking that you'll outsmart the meter maid or avoid tickets with clever ticket contesting strategies, just follow the rules.  Not getting a ticket is a way to save money and time.

Remember, meter maids are just doing their job and they aren't necessarily out to "get you".  The rules apply to everyone; the rules attempt to give people "turns at parking."

Here's a table of tickets, the fines, and tips to avoid getting them. 
Parking Ticket
Exceeding 72 hour Parking Limit

Even cars with residential parking permits are required to move their car every 72 hours.  Your next parking location must be at least one block or 1/10 of a mile (500ft) away from your current parking location.

The fine for removing chalk marks that a meter maid has placed is $110, so removing chalk marks to extend your parking is probably not the best idea.

Street Cleaning Ticket

It is officially against the law to park on the sidewalk.  However, during street cleaning hours, the parking control officers can use his/her discretion and may not ticket a car parked temporarily on the sidewalk. 

Once the street sweeping vehicles has swept the block, you can park on that block even if the “street cleaning” hours have not ended.  So if the street sweeping rule is between 8am and 10am, but the street sweeper goes by at 9:30am, then you can begin parking there at 9:30am without receiving a parking ticket.  There is no need to wait until 10am.

Residential Parking Ticket

Make sure you read the signs.  The rule on the street sign applies 100 feet from the sign.  

There are instances where you will have two conflicting signs on the same block.  For example, one sign may say 2 hour parking and another 3 hour parking.  If these two signs are within 100 feet of each other, which one applies?

The answer isn’t clear.

It may be the attentiveness of the parking control officer who notices the conflict and uses his/her judgment to not issue a ticket.  On the other hand, if the 2 hour sign is the only sign the officer sees, you may be issued a ticket.  However, it seems as if you took photos of the conflicting signs, you would have evidence that could contest the ticket.

Obstructing Residential Driveway

Confusion arises when the driver parks a car near a driveway and the bumper is encroaching onto the driveway.  Will you get a ticket?

If your bumper is extending over the driveway or even the red painted edges of the driveway, then you can get ticketed.

But, will you actually get ticketed?

That depends on a lot of things.  If the owner of the driveway needs to drive through the driveway, but cannot, the owner can call to get your car towed.

Will a parking control officer spot the violation?  If he or she does spot the violation, will he or she issue a ticket?  That depends on the discretion of the officer.

Are you willing to leave the power of getting a ticket to chance and the judgment/mood of other people?

Parking Meter - Unpaid Meter / Over Time Ticket

Pay the meter properly to ensure you don’t get a ticket. 

You can add more money to your meter by using your phone.   See details here: .

Remember, even if you pay for another 30 minutes at the 2 hour mark at a 2 hour meter, you can be ticketed for overstaying the 2 hour limit.

Parking in a Red Bus Zone 

With new construction, a bus stop that has always been at a particular spot may move to a temporary location.  The signage for these new temporary bus stops may not be as obvious as permanent bus stops.  For example, the curb might not be painted red yet.  You’ll have to look for temporary no parking signs and read the sign’s details.

Tow Away Zone

Tow Away Sign San Francisco

Read the signs!

Not Turning Your Tires on Hill

You must curb your tires on inclines of 3% grade or more.

How do you determine whether the incline has 3% grade?  Don’t bother determining the steepness of the grade and simply make it a habit to curb your tires.

The way to curb your tires correctly is to imagine what would happen if your car’s brakes failed.  You have to turn your tires so that the car does NOT roll into the center of the street.  Rather the tire should catch the sidewalk’s curb and stop rolling.

Can you imagine the accidents that would arise if a driverless car accelerated down a busy roadway?

Removing Chalk

Assume that parking control officers have some technology that allows them to track cars not just by the chalk, but by tracking location and license numbers.

Our smart phones have apps that allow you to take photos of credit cards and checks.  It would not be surprising to discover that parking control officers has some app that takes photos of license plates and tracks cars by their license plates.

So what are the officers doing by chalking tires?  Hm… good question.

Invalid Parking Permit

The annual fee for a residential parking permit is $109.  It takes some effort to get the permit, but would you rather take a chance at paying a $110 ticket AND the renewal fee for your permit?

Parking on the Sidewalk

It is officially against the law to park on the sidewalk.  However, during street cleaning hours, the parking control officers can use his/her discretion and may not ticket a car parked temporarily on the sidewalk. 

Temporary No Parking Signs for Events and Construction

Read the signs to see if you are parking during “No Parking” hours.  If you’re outside the restricted hours, you can park there.

Red Zone Ticket

Don’t park there anytime.  A tiny bit of bumper over a red curb is officially a violation, but parking control officers may use their discretion to withhold a ticket.

Yellow Commercial Zone Ticket

Read the signs and the details on the curb!

White Zone Passenger Loading Ticket

Read the signs and the details on the curb!  And see what business or event may be happening to determine if the it is actually “Passenger Loading/Unloading” hours.

For example, if it looks like there’s a concert going on at Davies Symphony Hall and the white curb is on the same block as the venue, most likely the white curb rule is being enforced.

Green Zone Short Term Parking Ticket

Read the signs and the details on the curb!  If you don’t see signs, most likely the rule is:
Monday – Friday
10 minute limit

Parking in Cross Walk

If your bumper is extending over a crosswalk, then you can get ticketed.

Parking within 15 Feet of Fire Station

Do not make it difficult for a fire truck from leaving the station to fight a fire!  Let firefighters get to the scene as quickly as possible.

Parking near Fire Hydrant

You must park outside the red zones around a fire hydrant.  If there is not red painted curb around the hydrant, then park at least 15 feet away from it.

Parking in Handicapped without Permit

The fine is highest for interfering with handicapped parking spots.  Handicapped people need that spot so stay out of the way!

Source of Ticket Costs for Fiscal Year 2013-2014:

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