Insider Info on Parking in a Construction Zone


Dear Parking Guru,

I work in North Beach at night. I can already hear you saying, "Oy!"  As there is a lot of construction going in North Beach, and probably will be until I die, can you explain the subtleties of the construction company "No Stopping" signs, specifically, the “No Parking Between the Hours of X and X” section?  And also, what specifically constitutes the construction no parking area? My understanding is that if a working truck/vehicle wasn't parked there by 12 noon on any given day, that the space reverted to becoming available to the public. So what say you? Thanks for your answer and I'm going to get your book for my parking ticket burdened co-workers.




Dear Nooner,

Construction in you neighborhood does make parking that much more difficult.  But, it won’t continue “until you die,” it just feels that way. It will actually continue long after you are gone. There’s an unwritten law that states “all construction will take twice as long as predicted.”

So, that being said, let’s find some creative ways to deal with your multi-generational situation.  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".  This means that wherever the last sign is placed, that is the end of the construction zone. 

As far as being able to park legally at noon if construction has not begun, this is an urban legend, not a law.  In the afternoon, it may appear that the crew is not going to be working that day, so people park there.  But then, at 2:30 PM, the cement truck arrives…and at 2:38PM, they are towed.

However, as a neighborly courtesy, and depending on the nature and predictability of the job, some signs do have “If Construction has not begun by noon, parking is allowed” woven into the restrictions. PG&E is the only company that I have seen post this on their signs. 

If the construction is going to go on for a long period of time, which in your case is true, it may be worthwhile to introduce yourself to the construction crew some Friday afternoon with a pizza and a six-pack, and begin a relationship with your new jackhammer-wielding neighbors. This friendly and neighborly act can often lead to future inside information about their schedule and when they are not going to be working certain specific days or hours. They are the ones who called SFMTA to have you towed.  SFMTA does not police construction site towing on their own.

Generally speaking however, construction-zone no parking signs are like a beacon.  Most people circling looking for a spot immediately dismiss these spots and drive right by them, but I drive straight for them. Don’t assume that because a sign exists, it means you can’t park there. These signs are supposed to be posted 72 hours before the zone becomes a no parking zone, and they are supposed to be taken down when the job is finished. But, they are often negligently left behind after the job is finished, sometimes for weeks. I had a “reserved spot” for a few weeks on Mission St. due to several ominous looking signs left up for a month after they expired.  Pull up to the spot, and carefully read the posted days and times on the paper sign.  In my experience, 72% of the time, they are perfectly legal spots in which to park.

Good Luck Nooner. Bookmark this posting for your future grandkids, as it looks like it’s going to be going on for a while.


David LaBua is the author of Finding the Sweet Spot, founder of VoicePark, the world’s first voice-guided mobile sustainable parking app, and a leader in the sustainable urban mobility movement.













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