Three Easy Tips to Avoiding Parking Tickets in San Francisco

Restrictive parking signs are only enforceable for 100 feet from the sign in San Francisco.

Dear Parking Guru,
I am excellent at finding parking, but I'm still getting parking tickets (seven so far this year) and am often not sure exactly why. I'm not really learning any lessons because the violation descriptions on the tickets are always ambiguous, and I often don't know what I've done wrong. Do you have a quick primer for me to simplify parking on a block with a lot of signs?


Dear Kristen,
I am glad that you're now finding parking easily. Now, lets see if we can do a quick intensive rehab to get you to quit your DPT habit. First, I'll start with the tough love. According to my calculations, you are on a pace to get 84 parking tickets this year. At an average of $50, that comes out to $350 per month and $4200 this year. It's getting out of control, my dear. But, you already know that, and I applaud you for taking action.
I think the anxiety for many people starts as soon as they get in the car, knowing that at some point, they will have to face the multi-headed monster of trying to find a spot. This anxiety and frustration builds with each lap around the block and it's what often leads to people being in denial about parking illegally, because there comes a point where they just have to get out of the car, and they will park in absolutely any spot that is open. That's why I made the free voice-guided parking app–to slay the dragon that's haunted San Francisco for the last 60 years.
So, with that dragon being laid to rest, let's talk about its evil siblings that still give you nightmares: the restrictive sign and ticket monsters. The overwhelmed feeling you have when faced with multiple signs on one block can be easily alleviated in three simple steps.
1) Know what time it is
2) Know what day it is
3) Know how far 100 feet is
Know what time it is when you're parking, and estimate how long you'll be parking there. Take that specific time frame and what day it is (pay special attention to midnight when today becomes tomorrow) and apply them one by one to each sign posted.
Then, count seven or eight car lengths in front of your car and the same behind your car. This is about 100 feet. Or better yet, know the length of one step of your natural walking pace. If you get to a cross street, stop, as parking signs only apply to the specific block that they're on and do not carry on to the next block). Why is 100 feet so crucial to know? Because restrictive parking signs are only enforceable for 100 feet from the sign.

No parking signs.

Let's take this multi-restriction signpost (right) and break it down one sign at a time, clockwise, from the top left. Say it's Tuesday at 8 am and you need to park for two hours.

1) No parking allowed to the left of the sign. Ever. So we know that you can't park to the left of the sign no matter what time it is.

2) No parking allowed to the right or left of the sign from 2 am to 4 am for street sweeping. You are okay so far to the right of the sign.

3) Parking is allowed to the right of the sign between 9 am and 7 pm, but for only one hour. You're still okay to the right of the sign, and in fact because you're beginning at 8 am, so you can park for two hours as long as the last sign doesn't trump you.

4) No parking to the right of the sign between 3 pm and 6 pm. You're okay, and good to go.

Let's may never park to the left of the sign, but you may stand, or stop, and you may park to the right of the sign, but for only an hour, between 9 am and 7 pm, but never between the hours of 3 pm and 6 pm nor between 2 and 4 am every day, and if it's before 9 am, that's all bonus time to the right of the sign. Got it?
For more parking tips, tricks, and quips, check out

Contact Us