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Ask the Parking Guru: What's the Difference Between "No Stopping" and "No Parking"?

Photos by st_photos and SoulCookie on Flickr

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.

Dear Parking Guru,
 

I just got a ticket for "no stopping".  I tried to nicely ask the officer what "no stopping" meant.  I told him I wasn't parked. He became frustrated with me quite quickly as though I had asked him a ridiculous question. He didn't couldn't explain it well, but said that I definitely was guilty.  So, I am turning to you, the parking guru to find out just what "no stopping" and "no parking" mean.
 
Thanks, J.P.


Dear JP,
 
While I consider myself a simple man who just happens to know a lot about parking, answering your question will require me to get into a guru-like transcendental head space, as though I were trying to answer a 7th century Zen kōan.
 
Most DPT officers and SF police that I have asked this question have given me an answer that reminded me of the time when Senator Jesse Helms was trying to define pornography, "I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it."  And I also have experienced them getting frustrated when I tried to clarify the difference between "no stopping" and "no parking".  But, I think I have my head wrapped around it enough to be able to give you an answer.
 
So, let's start off with the basics, or what up to this point we thought of as basic - no parking.

No Parking means that you may not stop your car by putting it in park or in some fashion having the vehicle locked in a stationary position.  So can you stop there at all?  Yes, you may stop there to quickly drop off or pick up passengers, but you may not wait there for passengers to arrive.  Last year, there were 18,179 No Parking citations issued.

No Stopping is actually even stricter than No Parking.  Not only are you not allowed to park here, you also are not allowed to pick up someone very quickly at the curb, make a phone call, check the SFpark app, or stop your vehicle's forward motion for any reason.
 
If you find yourself stopped in this restricted zone, here's a simple rule to test if you are breaking the law.  Simply take a look at your clothing...if you are not wearing a soot covered fire retardant jacket with your last name of the back, and your vehicle is not moving, then you are committing a "No Stopping" violation.
 
The most recent year's data that SFMTA has given me reports that 34,110 people were cited for this violation totaling about $3 million in fines.  I would guess close to all of the 34,110 drivers, when handed the citation, said something to the effect of, "That's ridiculous, I was only stopped for a second." And then the officer smiled and pointed at the sign.
 
What a Red Zone Ticket Will Cost You
Fine: $90
Towing Fee: $206.25
SF Admin Fee: $186.50
After First 4 hrs: $53.00
Storage Fee: $59.75 per day
 
For more tips, tricks, and parking secrets, or to ask David a question, click here.