San Francisco

San Francisco Work & Play: Don't Let Parking Get in the Way

Whether you're visiting San Francisco for business or pleasure or if you are lucky enough to live there, it pays to know the ins and outs of parking. Parking in San Francisco is no easy feat. In fact, many avail themselves of SFMTA options like buses, trains and cable cars to avoid dealing with it at all. By knowing the basics of parking in San Francisco, you can greatly reduce your risk of being slapped with steep fines, towed or otherwise dealing with some pretty big headaches.

Getting Down to the Basics

Our best piece of advice regarding parking in San Francisco is plan ahead. Due to the intricacies of rules regarding parking in various parts of the city, it's generally best to leave your vehicle elsewhere in the Bay Area and to rely on SFMTA public transportation options instead. Still, sometimes parking is a necessary evil. If you must drive your car into the city and park it, familiarize with these parking basics ahead of time:

 Parking Signs

First and foremost, always check for signs along the street before you even consider parking there. That's just as true about far-flung residential neighborhoods as it is for downtown. Obeying signs is your first line of defense against tickets, wheel clamps, towing and other woes, so check them early and often.

Curb Color Coding

Those who complain about the unfairness or vagueness of parking rules in San Francisco often just aren't paying attention. In an attempt to help people obey parking rules, San Francisco uses a curb color coding system in many areas. The meaning of various colors is as follows:

  • Red - No parking any time.
  • White - Passenger loading and unloading is permitted. There is usually a five-minute time limit. Restrictions based on time of day may apply too, so check nearby signs.
  • Green - Short-term parking. You are typically given 10 minutes or less between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday. In metered areas, time limits of 15 to 30 minutes typically apply.
  • Yellow - Loading and unloading by commercial vehicles only.
  • Blue - Parking for drivers with valid disabled parking permits only.


Street parking usually costs money in San Francisco. The city largely relies on very modern meters that can be paid using credit cards, debit cards and prepaid cards. Many meters can also be paid by phone via downloadable apps. This is convenient because if you realize your parking meter is about to expire, you can often add time to it with your app. However, many metered spaces have time limits that are strictly enforced. Except for downtown San Francisco and a few other very busy areas, metered spaces are free on Sunday. However, time limits typically still apply.

Residential Streets
When looking for tips about parking for free in San Francisco, you may have been told to try parking on residential streets. This sometimes works, but many times, permits are required for street parking in such areas. Again, check nearby signs, and keep in mind that finding free parking anywhere in San Francisco is way easier said than done.

SpotHero also has great deals on monthly parking in San Francisco.

To find a spot, browse the monthly parking map and filter by what matters to you. Our spots are organized by price, and you can filter monthly spots by in and out privileges, covered or non-covered, EV charging, and more.

We have spots for residential or working hours, or specialized times, whatever you need.

You can also hop right to one of these neighborhood where we have especially great monthly rates: Financial District, Nob Hill.

Need some help? Give us a call (415) 966-4376. We're here to help. 


Upcoming Events in San Francisco

Sun, Aug 28, 2016
Brick & Mortar Music Hall Parking
The Warfield Parking
Mon, Aug 29, 2016
The Warfield Parking
Tue, Aug 30, 2016

Most Popular in San Francisco

Alcatraz -  A must see, but remember you'll need all day parking near Fisheman's Wharf.  Get it as low as $5 with SpotHero today!

Financial District - Find great deals where San Francisco does business in the Financial District.

The Golden Gate Bridge - You'll probably want to find some parking around Nob Hill, where you can capture a great picture of the 2 mile long suspension bridge.

SFO - Find parking near SFO, San Francisco International Airport.

Bottom Line on Parking in San Francisco

The bottom line on parking in San Francisco is to plan ahead as much as possible. If you're going to a ballgame, for instance, scout out convenient parking garages beforehand so you know right where to go. If you're flying out of a local airport, investigate the available parking options ahead of time to ensure smooth sailing. Wherever you end up parking, pay attention to signs and curb color coding. Take care not to block driveways and other areas. If street parking is too confusing, stick with parking garages. They may be pricier, but not if you use SpotHero.  If you're pressed for time and trying to get around time and enjoy taking in all the attractions save time, money, and have peace of mind, parking smarter is way cheaper than paying for parking tickets or having to locate your car after it's been towed away!