Under the California Vehicle Code, a vehicle with five or more delinquent parking citations may be immediately towed or temporarily disabled or "booted". Once a vehicle has been booted, you have 72 hours to pay the boot fee, outstanding citations and penalties on the booted vehicle, and any other vehicle registered in your name, before it is towed.
Boots are not released on Sundays or holidays. Community service in lieu of payment or payment plans are not an option once your vehicle has been booted or towed.
To pay your outstanding citations and the boot removal fee::
During Business Hours (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) – The boot removal fee and all citation amounts due must be paid at the SFMTA Customer Service Center located at 11 South Van Ness Avenue. Cash, money order, certified check, and Visa or MasterCard are accepted (personal checks not accepted). After full payment has been received the boot will be removed from your vehicle within two hours.
Non-Business Hours - Citation and boot fee payments are accepted after business hours and on weekends at Auto Return, 450 7th Street between Bryant and Harrison Streets. Same day boot release is available Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Payments received after 11 p.m. releases the vehicle on the next business day. No boot releases are conducted on Sundays and holidays.
Boot fees cannot be paid online. You must appear in-person at either the Customer Service Center or at AutoReturn to pay this fee and have your vehicle released.
If you feel your vehicle has been booted improperly, you have the right to an in-person instant hearing. Hearings are conducted at 11 South Van Ness Avenue. The hearing officer will only evaluate whether there are sufficient outstanding citations to justify the vehicle being booted. Citations under review are not included. The hearing officer will not determine the substantive validity of any citation.
If you think your car has been towed, immediately call AutoReturn, the City's towing service provider at 415.865.8200. To make it easier to find your vehicle, you should provide your license plate number, vehicle description, tow location and the tow date. If after an hour from the time you noticed your vehicle missing and AutoReturn has no record of your vehicle being towed, it is possible that it has been stolen and you should call the San Francisco Police Department at 415.553.0123.
AutoReturn's Customer Service Center is located at 450 7th Street, at Harrison Street. where you can recover your vehicle and settle all fees. If you have five or more outstanding citations they must be paid in full, including any late penalties. Regardless of the reason for the tow, a vehicle will not be released if the registration has expired. In order to recover your vehicle go to the Department of Motor Vehicles and return with proof of valid registration. All fees and citation penalties still apply. Community service is not an option in lieu of payment once your vehicle has been booted or towed. AutoReturn accepts cash, ATM cards, and most major credit cards (American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa). They are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Note that these fees are for most vehicles. Large vehicle towing and storage charges are higher. There may also be a lien fee and a dolly fee on the vehicle if it required special handling during the tow.
To retrieve a vehicle towed as part of a crime investigation, including a recovered stolen vehicle, you must obtain a tow release from the San Francisco Police Department at the Hall of Justice, 850 Bryant Street, Room 154 between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm, Monday through Friday. For more information call 415.553.1619.
If your vehicle is valued as less than five hundred dollars ($500), you must request a hearing within 10 calendar days from the date of the tow. If your vehicle is valued at five hundred dollars ($500) or more, you must request a hearing within 30 calendar days from the date of the tow. SFMTA advises you to request a hearing by filling out the online request form, or by coming in to the Customer Service Center, immediately.
In-person hearings are conducted at the SFMTA Customer Service Center at 11 South Van Ness Avenue, Monday- Friday, between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.
If you wish to request a hearing by mail, send a letter outlining the reason for your protest and any evidence you wish to have considered to:
Customer Service Center
ATTN: Tow Hearing Requests
11 South Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94103
If you cannot afford to get your car out of storage, you may request a hearing to be held within 48 hours of your request (excluding weekends and holidays). If you choose to leave your vehicle in storage and you do not prevail at the tow hearing, you will be responsible for all storage fees starting from the date the vehicle was first towed. Consequently SFMTA ADVISES YOU TO GET YOUR VEHICLE OUT OF STORAGE IMMEDIATELY. In making a decision at a tow hearing, the hearing officer only determines if there are reasonable grounds for the tow.