Ask The Parking Guru: What Parking Rules Apply to Construction Zones?


Hi David,
Thank you for all the wonderful tips and explanations on 7x7 about navigating parking in San Francisco - I just found your site, and have found it very helpful! I was wondering if you know whether the 100-foot rule also applies for temporary special use/constructions signs. I asked a parking officer about this once, and she said that the no tow-away only applied for the parking spot where the sign was posted.

There's been so much construction happening in my neighborhood over the last couple of months, I've been very diligent about reading the signs carefully. Unfortunately, my car was towed on Friday because I was in a construction zone. While there was a sign in front of the spot behind me, there was no sign in the spot where I parked. I'm hoping to contest this, but was just curious about the rule for temporary special use/construction "no parking" signs.
Thanks so much,

Dear A.,
Thanks for your kind words and excellent question. I'm sorry to hear that you got towed, and that you wasted half a day retrieving your car. It can be truly traumatizing to find your car missing, and absolutely exhausting to figure out where it is and exactly how to get it back.
The bad news is that the first DPT officer gave you imprecise info.  The good news is that the DPT officer that gave you a ticket may also have been wrong.  The law states that all construction signs, "Shall be posted every 20 linear feet of occupied space with at least one sign at each end of the occupied space".  So, if you were in the zone of the two ends of the zone, then the ticket was legitimate. But, if you were outside of the zone, then the ticket was given to you erroneously and you should definitely contest it.   And yes, $450+ is an outrageous sum of money to have to pay.   Towing vehicles has become a significant part of the City's budget. AutoReturn tows about 100,000 cars per year for SF, and the City receives $186.50 administrative fee per tow, or about 18$ million per year.
If the construction is going to go on for a long period of time where you park, it may be worth the investment to introduce yourself and buy the construction guys a pizza and a six-pack, and then get some future inside info when they are not going to be working certain days or hours.  They are the ones who called DPT to have you towed.  DPT does not enforce construction site tows on their own, as they have no idea whose car or truck is a worker's and whose isn't.
I think that your situation is worth contesting as you were given the wrong information by a parking officer.  If you can remember the day, time, and location that you asked, you may be able to identify the parking officer as they typically have regular routes for several months at a time.
It's difficult enough to find a legal parking spot, but when you are given incorrect info by an official, and are then charged $500 for following their advice....well...there's something very wrong about that. And it's not an uncommon experience. That's exactly why I wrote Finding the Sweet Spot, why I love to write for 7x7, made the Where is my Car Flowchart,
and why I had a parking app built (coming soon) everyone can have absolutely all of the information easily available/useable and to make towing scenarios like this one, and parking tickets and parking frustration in general a thing of the past.
To have all of the info at your fingertips click here.

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