How to Park Legally

About

We at the SFMTA want to help everyone in San Francisco park legally, and we know that reading the signs is half the battle.  Follow these additional tips to minimize the chances of receiving a parking ticket. Local laws governing parking and traffic rules may be found in the San Francisco Transportation Code.

Step-by-step instructions

1General Rules

Car Parked on Corner of Minna and 11th Streets | May 22, 2013

72 Hour Maximum

In the absence of other restrictions, such as permit zones, street sweeping, meters or posted time limits, you are allowed to park in one spot for up to 72 hours. Vehicles parked beyond the maximum limit can be issued a warning first, cited and towed, even if they have a permit to park in that area.

You can help neighbors and visitors avoid citations and being towed.  Feel free to print and share this flyer:  Remember to move your vehicle every 72 hours (PDF)


Car Parked Less Than 18 Inches From Curb | May 22, 2013

18 Inches from the Curb

When parking parallel (with the side of your car against the curb), make sure your wheels are within 18 inches of the curb.


Parking on Street With Flow of Traffic | May 22, 2013

Face the Flow of Traffic

Don't park against the flow of traffic. Your vehicle must face in the direction of the flow of traffic, even if it is otherwise parked legally.


Car Parked on Hill with Wheels Curbed | May 20, 2013

Curb Your Tires on Hills

When you park (3% grade or more) angle your front wheels so if your vehicle were hit or its brakes were to fail, it would roll into the curb and not into traffic.

  • On a sloping driveway, turn the wheels so the vehicle will not roll into the street.  Set your parking brake.
  • Headed downhill, turn your front wheels into the curb or toward the side of the road.  Set your parking brake.
  • Headed uphill, turn your front wheels away from the curb and let your vehicle roll back a few inches.  The wheel should gently touch the curb.  Set your parking brake.
  • Headed either uphill or downhill when there is no curb, turn the wheels so the vehicle will roll away from the center of the road if your brakes fail.
  • Always set your parking brake and leave the vehicle in gear or in “park” or “P” position.

You can confirm the grade of your street by going to the Department of Public Works (DPW) Street Grade Map. DPW Street Grade Map

  • Follow DPW's instructions by entering the street name, limits/(cross street), keymap number, block number or block lot number.
  • Press search. 
  • Under "Key Map Results" click on "grade".
  • Allow your browser to open the map.
  • On the map you will find your street's grade listed as a percent (%).

Car Parked With Room For Driveway | May 20, 2013

Check Your Bumpers

Check your front and rear bumpers to make sure they are not extending into a driveway, crosswalk or color zone.


2Meters, Street Sweeping & Permit Areas

No Parking Sign on Street Corner | May 22, 2013

Check for Signs

Always check for posted parking and street sweeping times.  Look 100 feet in both directions for any sign. Please call 311 to report any defaced, deficient or missing parking signs.


Permit Zone Parking Sign | May 22, 2013

Don't Park in the Same Place in Permit Areas

In permit areas you must move your vehicle after the posted time limit (typically 1 to 2 hours) if you don't have a permit. The law requires you to move one block away or at least one-tenth (1/10) of a mile—about 500 feet. Do not drive around and then park in the same block, or you can be ticketed!

Need a permit? A, Z, or any letter in between, here's the information on parking permits.


Car Parked During Street Sweeping Hours | May 22, 2013

Parking is Allowed After Sweeping

Sweeping the streets keeps them clean, and street sweeping citations discourage vehicle owners from blocking the street sweeping truck's path. Once the street sweeping truck has swept the curbside, you may park your vehicle there, even if the posted sweeping hours have not expired.

DPW's Street Sweeping Schedule 


Rush Hour Tow Away Zone Sign | May 22, 2013

Watch for Tow-Away Zones

Some parking zones become tow-away zones during commute hours. Check the meter face and posted signs for tow-away restrictions.


3Driveways, Sidewalks and Crosswalks

Cars Parked Clear of Driveway | May 21, 2013

Give Driveway Owners Space to Get In and Out

A driveway begins at the top of the sloped edges, or the “curb cut.” Some driveways may have red tips—red curb coloring on the curb cuts and space adjacent to it. Parking in the red tip or within the cut curbs may result in your vehicle being cited and/or towed.

You can help neighbors and visitors avoid citations and being towed.  Feel free to print and share this flyer: Thanks for supporting safe driving (PDF)


Cars Parked Clear of Driveway | May 21, 2013

Park In Your Own Driveway

  • You may park in your own driveway as long as no portion of your vehicle extends over the sidewalk or into the required setback. 
  • So please do not park on the sidewalk or within the required setback.  San Francisco's Planning Department provides more information, including a list of common planning code violations.   San Francisco Planning Code Violations
  • Residents may park in front of their own driveway parallel to the curb or street, only if the vehicle’s license plate is registered to the building’s address, and if the building has two or fewer units.
  • You can help neighbors and visitors avoid citations and being towed.  Feel free to print and share this flyer: Thanks for keeping our sidewalks safe (PDF)

Car Parked Away From Crosswalk | May 20, 2013

Watch for Crosswalks

It is illegal to park in any marked or unmarked crosswalks. Never block curb ramps located inside or adjacent to crosswalks. Leave at least three (3) feet of space between a curb ramp and your vehicle.


4Disabled Placards

Handicapped Placard on Mirror | May 21, 2013

Parking with Disabled Placards

A disabled placard or license plate exempts a vehicle from parking time limits so long as the person to whom the placard is issued is being transported. Hang the disabled placard from the rear view mirror. You may display a disabled placard which has been issued from a different state or country. With a properly displayed disabled placard you may park in any of the following zones:

  • Blue zones
  • Meter zones without paying (Except for red or yellow-topped meters which are reserved for trucks and commercial vehicles as posted on the meter) (Many metered zones become tow away zones during commute hours and the disabled placard does not provide an exemption.)
  • Green zones
  • Residential Parking zones
  • Areas with posted time limits (e.g. a one hour zone in a business district)

A disabled placard does NOT exempt the vehicle from all other citation and/or tow away rules and restrictions including, but not limited to street cleaning restrictions.


5How you can help

Street Parking on Duboce Avenue | May 21, 2013

Give Others Room to Park

Maximize availability. In areas where there are not spaces marked by painted lines, pull as close to the vehicles in front or behind you as possible while leaving enough space (18 inches) for them to exit. And remember, motorcycles and small vehicles park too! This may be the reason for irregular space between parked cars.


New parking meters

Report Broken Meters and Faded Curbs

Where the curb has faded so badly as to be difficult to determine the curb color, there is a chance Enforcement might not cite vehicles for curb color violations. And while you may only park for the posted time limit at a broken meter, functioning meters guarantee better parking availability for everyone. Help us keep meters working and curb colors bright and up to date by calling 311.