How to Avoid Parking Tickets

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 be sure you won't be hit with a ticket:

General Rules

  • Do not leave vehicle parked for more than 72 hours. Vehicles parked beyond 72 hours can be cited and towed, even if they have a parking permit. Keep in mind that street construction and other special events can sometimes require removing parking from a street with as little as 24 hours notice, so it’s a good idea to check your vehicle every day to make sure no temporary restrictions have been posted that will affect your vehicle.
  • Park within 18 inches of the curb when parallel.
  • Don't park backwards. Your vehicle must face in the direction of the flow of traffic, even if it is otherwise parked legally.
  • Check your bumpers to make sure they are not crossing over into a driveway, crosswalk or color zone.

Permits & Street Sweeping

  • In areas with time limits, do not park in the same spot or on the same side of the street. After you move your car, we recommend parking on another block. The law requires you to move one block away or at least one-tenth of a mile from your vehicle’s first recorded parking position. This will ensure the parking enforcement officer does not ticket you for disobeying the time limit.
  • Always check for parking and street sweeping signs. Look 100 feet in both directions for any parking signs and check the curb to see if there are any color curb markings. During street sweeping hours, you may not park until the street has been physically swept. Please call 311 to report any defaced, deficient or missing parking signs.

Driveways, Sidewalks & Hills

  • Do not block driveways or crosswalks. A driveway begins at the "curb cut," where the curb begins to slope downward toward street level. Residents can park in front of their own driveways if the building the driveway serves has 1-2 units and the vehicle’s license plate is registered to the building’s address (a permit is not required). However, it is illegal to park in any marked or unmarked crosswalks. Never block disabled curb ramps located inside or adjacent to crosswalks.
  • Do not park on sidewalks. A sidewalk citation can be given even if the pedestrian travel path is partly clear or if the vehicle is parked across a driveway. This includes motorcycles and bicycles that impede pedestrian paths.
  • Curb wheels when parking on a hill of any perceptible grade. When parking facing uphill, turn the steering wheel toward the street. When parking facing downhill street, turn steering wheel toward the sidewalk. We also recommend parking letting your vehicle wheels rest against the curb to keep it from rolling.

Disabled Placards

  • A disabled placard does not allow you to park anywhere at any time.
  • You may not park during street sweeping hours.
  • A disabled placard permits you to park within “posted time limit zones”, in blue, green, or residential zones and at meters. During posted “Commercial Loading Zone” hours you may not park at yellow top or red top meters.
  • Because some metered zones become tow away zones during commute hours, you should check signs 100 feet in both directions of your parking space.

Exercising Courtesy

Some parking practices are perfectly legal, just not very nice. You may not get a ticket for parking bumper-to-bumper, but you can be kind to your neighbors by using these rules of thumb:

  • Don't let your bumpers touch. Leave at least 18 inches of space between cars when parking parallel so that your neighbors can access their trunks, or drive away without having to bump into your vehicle.
  • Report faded curb colors. Where the curb has faded, vehicles will not be cited for curb color violations. Help us keep the colors bright and up to date by calling 311.
  • 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 for them to exit.

“How do I...?”

Simply dial 311 in order to:

  • Report a malfunctioning parking meter.
  • Request a faded color curb be repainted.
  • Give feedback about the conduct of a parking enforcement officer.
  • Ask any question about parking enforcement, bar none.
  • Make any request. We are here to serve you!