Yellow zones in San Francisco turn into available spots at 6 p.m. -- the parking spot 'witching hour.'
If you knew before you left for your destination that you were going to easily find parking that was not only free, but right in front of your destination, wouldn't that be amazing?
I was invited to an event at the Mechanics' Library and Chess Club on Post and Montgomery a couple of weeks ago and asked what time I should arrive. The host said, "Around 6:00 p.m." Many people hearing that would have thought, "Oh, no, finding parking...downtown...during rush hour...on Post Street...that's going to suck tremendously, and will probably cost me $20 to park in a garage."
But, I, upon hearing the 6 pm arrival time, instantly smiled. In fact, a warm sense of calm flooded me. Why? Because I knew that parking was going to be a breeze. I knew it would be free. And, I knew that there was an extremely good chance that I was going to find a parking spot right in front of the building.
How did I know that? Because 6 pm is the parking witching hour. The time of day when parking witches, parking genies, parking prayers, parking mudras, parking chants, and the parking gods are at their most powerful.
Or, for you pragmatists: 6 pm is the time when most yellow loading zones become general metered parking. It's the time when most general metered parking becomes free. It's the time when most people parked downtown get into their cars and begin their journeys home. And, it's a bit too early for people with dinner reservations or otherwise going out on the town to be looking for parking.
At 5:55 pm I drove up Taylor, took a right on Post and saw a free spot 5 blocks away. "Not bad, " I thought, "Maybe I should snag it and be safe." I pushed closer, "$15 evening parking special at a garage? No thanks." It was the witching hour.
I continued to drive closer to my destination. The exodus of workers commuting home was in full force, parking spots were opening up left and right like I had just won the parking lottery and this was my parade route.
In a few blocks I saw the library. I saw a spot right in front. It was yellow! But, there was a construction sandwich board in front of it with a big no parking sign stapled to it. I pulled right up, and read the construction sign. It had expired three days before.
I checked up and down the street for 100 feet for any other parking enforcement signs...all clear. I parked, and as I walked toward the door to enter the building, I heard six faint bells from the Ferry Building clock tower and smiled...it was indeed the witching hour.
If you'd like to learn secret parking anti-citation incantations, parking spells, or some true parking magic, click here.
Finding the Sweet Spot is a frequent contributor to NBC Bay Area.