Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Ask the Parking Guru: Can You Avoid Tickets by Parking On the Same Block?

Flickr by Mike Licht

Hi David,

I have a question for you.  I work on the 3200 block of Van Ness.  The parking in front of the building is an island in the center of the street, there are spots on each side of the island, and there is a 4-hour limit. Last week I lucked out and found a spot right in front of the building.  Four hours later I went to move my car and somebody four spots down happened to be moving at the same time so I took that spot. 

Well, I got a ticket saying I parked over the 4 hour limit.  Not true, I moved my car 4 spots away.  Is that legal to just move a few spots down and park for 4 more hours or is there a restriction?  Or did the meter maid just have me logged on that block and I got a ticket because they thought I was in the same spot?
 
Not only is the parking in front of the building 4 hours, the parking the rest of the way down Van Ness toward the pier is also 4-hour parking. I want to be sure I understand the law so I don't get another ticket.
 
Thanks for your help!
E. R.

 
Dear E.R.,
Sorry about your ticket.  It's such a drag to spend your hard-earned money on a parking ticket.  Exceeding the posted time limit is a parking violation that 41,932 people were cited for last year and fined $60. You were partially correct in that the parking officer had you logged into that block, and that there is a restriction. The law is that you have to move to another block, not a few spots up or down the block, or even to the other side of the street, but you have to cross a cross street and park on an entirely new block.

The DPT officers used to use chalk (and some still do) to put a mark on your tire and then come back to see if you've overstayed your welcome. People would just wipe it off, or move a few spots, or roll their tires half a rotation to hide the chalk.
 
Now, most officers have handheld electronic tracking computers that will log your license plate as being parked on a specific block. When they come back to that block in 2 or 4 hours, if you are still parked anywhere on that block, you will get a ticket. And, while they're at it, they will check to see if you've racked up a number of unpaid citations, and if so, will order a boot for your car.
 
I know of one crafty DPT officer who will use chalk as a decoy in conjunction with the electronic tracker.  So, you move your car a little to rotate the tire to hide the chalk, and come back to find a parking ticket, and are puzzled as to how they knew.
 
Thanks for writing E.R.. Most people don't know about this law, and many other laws. That's why close to 2 million tickets are given out each year, and also why I thought of compressing all that pertinent information into a user-friendly reference book.  If you'd like your very own with all the rules, tips and tricks that neither your mother, your father, nor your parking instructor told you about, click here.  

 

It's no secret that parking in the city is a bitch. So we've enlisted local parking guru and author of  Finding the Sweet Spot, David LaBua, to dish out weekly tips on navigating the ins and outs of city parking.