How to Make Parking Laws Work In Your Favor


Dear Parking Guru,
This morning I found not one, not two, but three parking tickets on my windshield, and I am beside myself with frustration. On Sunday night, my boyfriend and I parked our car a couple of blocks away from where we live in the Richmond. The only restriction is for street sweeping on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month. It was the 4th week when we parked, so we thought we were good. I went back to my car on Friday (five days later), and there were three tickets for a residential parking violation. After looking down to pick up the crumpled tickets, I looked up and saw a freshly installed 2-Hour (from 9am-6pm) parking sign. It was put up sometime after we parked the car there.  

I asked my neighbors if they got any notice in the mail or from the landlord about the new residential signs. They said they had not. I later took a closer look at the tickets, AND to top it off, two of the tickets were issued only 29 minutes apart by two different officers. First of all, how would I know when they put up new signs if I don't live on that street? Second of all, help! I can't afford $250 right now and if I wait, it will turn into $500.

PS: I got a ticket for not curbing my wheels a couple of years ago on a street that looks completely flat to me. I paid my ticket thinking there was no way I would know what the grade was. I just looked up the street from the surveyed street link on your site, and it is only 2.4%! At least it is good to know that they were in the wrong. But it seems unfair that they get to keep my money.



Dear DS,

I have some bad news (which you will later interpret as good news), some information to keep you a step ahead of the parking police, some good news, some more good news, and possibly some bonus good news for you.
First of all, the bad news. I don't think that there is any obligation for SFMTA to inform the public of a new sign being installed, other than making the minutes from the meeting when it was approved publicly available. So, there is no way around that.

Now, here's the information that is going to change your mood dramatically.  Do you know about the 72-hour law? It states that you can only park in one spot on a public street for a maximum of 72 hours, even when you are parked in your own residential parking area and you have a permit. DPT typically puts a green sticker on the windshield declaring it an abandoned vehicle, and gives you three days after that. After those 72 hours, your vehicle is booted, and then towed.

The first batch of good news is that this law not only applies to us, but it also applies to the parking police. When a new parking restriction sign is installed, it does not become a legal restriction for vehicles until 72 hours after its installation. So only 74 hours after the sign is installed (72 hours plus the two hours of parking allowed after it went in effect), were you eligible for a ticket.

How can you use this info? Well, ticket Number 1 was issued to you less than 74 hours after the sign was installed, so that ticket should be dismissed.

The second batch of good news is that ticket Number 3 was issued 29 minutes after a ticket for the same violation and is invalid. Why? Well, multiple tickets are indeed legally allowed to be issued, but only after the time restriction is reached after the first violation occurs...which would have been after another two hours. Otherwise, they could just sit there and continually write you tickets one after another until you return. So, that ticket should be dismissed as well.

This is actually a moot point because the first of those two-in-29-minute tickets was also issued prior to the 74 hours, so that one should be dismissed as well!

As an added bonus, I think you should take a shot at the 3% grade ticket for not curbing your wheels even though it has been a while since the ticket. The fact that it was issued erroneously (which you can support with evidence from the link of the surveyed streets) meaning that no law was broken, infinitely outweighs (at least ethically) the fact that the time limit to contest it has run out. There was no law broken. The first three you can easily contest by mail, but the third one may require a letter followed by a short hearing and a reasonable parking official judging the case.

Let me know how you fare and if you have any trouble along the way.
Happy Parking!

If you or a parking-challenged loved one would like to learn the 100 other ways to avoid ever paying for a parking ticket again, click here. 

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