Modernizing San Francisco's Parking Meter Hours

Project Introduction

November 2023 Update: The effort to modernize meter hours is being delayed while the city conducts an independent analysis of the economic impact of extending parking meter hours.

San Francisco uses parking meters to create available parking in commercial districts and high-demand neighborhoods. When parking meters are in operation, drivers spend less time circling the block looking for parking. Less circling means less congestion and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.  

Though life in the city has changed dramatically over the decades, San Francisco’s parking meter hours have not changed in most neighborhoods since the first meters were installed in 1947: they are still Monday through Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Extending parking meter hours until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday and to include Sunday between noon and 6 p.m. will expand parking availability and benefit all those who live, shop, worship and work in San Francisco. The SFMTA is facing a substantial budget deficit, and the revenue generated by extending parking meter hours will help prevent Muni service cuts. 

Our data show that when meters turn off at 6:00 p.m., parking availability drops significantly. Most commercial districts in San Francisco continue operating well past 6:00 p.m., and Sundays resemble Saturdays in terms of business activity in most neighborhoods. When San Francisco tried out Sunday parking meters in 2013, parking availability was substantially improved. So in addition to generating critically important revenue, extending meter hours will support local businesses by making parking more plentiful.  

The graph on the left shows parking occupancy Monday-Saturday. The bar on the left shows that during metered hours (9 am- 6 pm), occupancy is in the target zone (60-80%). The bar on the right shows that during unmetered hours (6-10 pm), occupancy is above the target zone. The graph on the right shows parking occupancy  Sunday 12-6 pm. The bar on the left shows that without metering, occupancy is above the target zone. The bar on the right shows that with metering, occupancy is in the target zone.

Project Status
  1. Planning
  2. Legislated
Predicted Completion
December 2024
Project Success
On schedule

Why now? 

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue, and as a result, the SFMTA is expecting a potential deficit of $130 million beginning in Fiscal Year 2025. Without new revenue, the agency will be forced to cut the equivalent of 20 Muni lines. Additional revenue from extending parking meter hours can help prevent these cuts, which would disproportionately impact people with limited incomes, people of color, older adults and people with disabilities. 

Outreach and Implementation 

In February 2020, the Mayor encouraged the SFMTA to extend meter hours into the evening and on Sundays as a way to fight congestion. In Spring 2020, the SFMTA Board of Directors approved a two-year budget that directed staff to explore when and where extended metering hours would be appropriate. While this effort was delayed by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Board members again urged the agency to expand parking meter hours after we discussed our dire financial situation at the Board Workshop in February 2023. SFMTA staff will be undertaking a comprehensive outreach and engagement effort to get the word out about the next extended meter hours, including offering briefings to elected leaders and faith, advocacy, business, neighborhood, and merchant groups; ensuring coverage in citywide and local media; social media updates; passing out flyers and posters along metered corridors; and providing warning notices in advance of the start of enforcement. We also are in the process of replacing every parking meter in the city. The extended meter hour implementation is designed to follow the installation of new meters, which will have bigger, brighter and easier to use screens; operate in English, Spanish and Chinese; and are more resistant to vandalism. The new parking meter hours will be rolled out beginning once an economic impact analysis of the project is complete. 

Some SF neighborhoods already have meter hours that match the times that businesses are active. Parking meters run into the evenings in Fisherman’s Wharf (7:00 p.m.), Potrero Hill and Mission Bay (10:00 p.m.) and the northern and eastern waterfronts (11:00 p.m.).  Parking meters in Fisherman’s Wharf and the northern and eastern waterfront also operate on Sundays.  Note that areas that already have parking meter hours that run later than 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday, or earlier than Noon or later than 6 p.m. on Sundays, will retain those longer meter hours. San Francisco is not alone in operating meter hours in the evenings and on Sundays. Many cities in California operate their parking meters until 8:00 p.m. or later during evenings, including Los Angeles, Walnut Creek, Sacramento, West Hollywood, Long Beach and even South San Francisco. Across the United States, cities such as Seattle, New York City, Boston and many others operate parking meters on evenings and/or Sundays.  

We want to hear from you

Community input is important, so we want to hear from you. Please use the contact information below to contact the Extended Meter Hours team with your feedback.  

Contact Information
Extended Meter Hours Project