San Francisco is a beautiful city, with many sights to see and things to do. Whether you’re an out-of-towner or a local, there’s one part of the city that can be frustrating: parking. Don’t worry! We’ve got all the tips you need to avoid traffic jams, overpriced garages and even tickets.
It is valid that parking can be very challenging in San Francisco. Parking regulations are complicated, and meters are confusing, especially if you’re new to the city. In addition, parking tickets are expensive and easy to get (we know, it’s not fair). Therefore, you might want to reconsider parking illegally or without paying at all; it can end up being more expensive than expected!
Best long-term parking options
If you regularly travel into the city, you will find that long-term parking options are far more affordable.
- Parking in garages: If you’re looking for long-term parking, consider parking at a garage or other paid lot (like one of the many private lots that serve East Bay residents). These options offer convenience and security, but they also tend to be more expensive than street parking.
- Monthly parking: There are a variety of monthly parking downtown San Francisco options to choose from on sites like Whereipark, spothero and parking.com. Monthly parking is affordable and convenient. You can easily search for spaces using interactive maps to select the best spot and location for you.
Parking meters are the most common way to pay for parking in San Francisco. Find one, insert coins or cards into the slot and press a button. You’ll see a countdown timer that indicates how much time you have left before your meter expires. You can use an automated pay machine instead of paying with cash or a credit card; these machines allow you to add time without writing down your license plate number. However, suppose there’s an option available on your street that doesn’t require payment by card (such as coin-operated meters). In that case, we recommend taking that route instead because it’s more convenient for drivers who don’t have access.
When you’re ready to leave, remember to check your receipt or receipt app on your phone so that you know how much money was put into the meter when you parked (this will help prevent getting a ticket). If there is no way to tell how much time was left on the meter when we parked, it may leave us vulnerable if we get a ticket for overstaying our welcome at an expired parking spot!
We know what you’re thinking. If there’s no overnight parking, how can I stay in San Francisco? Well, there are actually some exceptions to the rule:
- The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency allows residents to apply for a Residential Preferential Parking Permit (RPPP) if they live within 100 feet of a metered space and have a vehicle registered at their residence address. The permit allows you to park within zones marked with signs indicating RPPP restrictions from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m., Monday through Friday and Saturday from 9 p.m.–6 p.m. However, vehicles parked in these zones are subject to citation and tow if parked illegally during restricted hours;
- Vehicles registered as commercial or official use may be authorized for overnight parking after 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, in residential districts where overnight parking is not otherwise prohibited by posted signage.
San Francisco colored curbs
San Francisco parking signs come in four colors: yellow, red, blue and green.
- Yellow curbs are reserved for commercial vehicles
- Red curbs are for residential parking
- Blue curbs designate disabled parking spaces
- Green ones signal carpool or vanpool spots.
Parking here is tricky but doable
Parking here is tricky but doable. Sure, you’ll probably pay $50 to park for 24 hours—but in a city where parking can be both expensive AND confusing, it’s worth it to know that your car won’t get towed or ticketed while you’re away from it.
- Expect to pay between $30-$85 per day for parking in downtown San Francisco (that’s the price range at one of the most popular lots). The only saving grace here is that there are three different zones within the city; what may be cheaper one block over might not be so great if you end up on a street in another zone. So if possible, try to find out what zone your destination falls into before making arrangements with a lot operator—this can save up to 30%!
- Dozens upon dozens of private lots exist throughout San Francisco; making sense of all these options can be overwhelming and frustrating when looking for somewhere safe and affordable.
If you’re planning to visit San Francisco, parking doesn’t have to be a challenge. However, if you want to avoid paying for parking in the city, make sure you plan ahead and leave yourself enough time for walking between destinations. Some of the best areas for visiting are accessible by public transportation as well, which is an excellent option if your car doesn’t have access to street parking in popular neighborhoods.
Parking meters are also very convenient and cheap. So if you’re looking for a spot where you can drop off your bags and get back out quickly without having to park too far away from where you want to be (or if your flight leaves within an hour or two), these spots are perfect since they’re right by Union Square where most major attractions are located! There are also some digital meters available today that let users pay with their phones instead of coins; however, these may cost more per hour depending on location, so keep this fact in mind before deciding which type should be used!
So, there you go. Everything you need to know about San Francisco parking: it’s not always easy, but with a little bit of patience and planning, it can be done. We hope this article has made your life easier as a driver in San Francisco!