If you’ve been to San Francisco, you know how difficult it is to drive in the city. Grid locks everywhere, no left turns everywhere…okay, a bit exaggeration, but you know what I mean. Parking, another headache — parking AND no parking signs everywhere. Sometimes they’re so complex it’s hard to figure out what they really mean.


Most of us know you can get a ticket for driving and parking. What about stopping? Yes, you can get a parking ticket in San Francisco for stopping at the wrong place. I learned it the hard way — after receiving a $288 ticket in the mail for parking in the bus zone three weeks prior.

The location indicated on the ticket is 700 4th St. It’s the Caltrain station. After looking through my driving records, I realized that I must have stopped in the front of the main entrance to pick up a passenger.

While researching the violation, I came across a few articles with great tips on avoiding parking tickets in San Francisco. I thought to share them with you.

Bus Zone

Bus zones top the list. DO NOT park at a bus stop or bus zone (usually marked red on the curb). DO NOT stop there either.

San Francisco has a strict enforcement for parking and apparently stopping in the bus zones because the following section in California Vehicle Code, 22500I:

22500. No person shall stop, park, or leave standing any vehicle whether attended or unattended, except when necessary to avoid conflict with other traffic or in compliance with the directions of a peace officer or official traffic control device, in any of the following places:
(i) Except as provided under Section 22500.5, alongside curb space authorized for the loading and unloading of passengers of a bus engaged as a common carrier in local transportation when indicated by a sign or red paint on the curb erected or painted by local authorities pursuant to an ordinance.

You can get a ticket even if you don’t see a meter maid around, thanks to the cameras. Nowdays there are cameras everywhere. San Francisco has equipped Muni buses with cameras to catch parking violations. If you are parked in an area you are not supposed, watch for Muni buses behind you. Leave, if you see a bus coming!

Transit Lanes

If you parked or stopped in a bus transit lane, and the bus has to go around you, the fine is $110. Remember there are cameras on Munis!

Double Parking

Double parking is regularly enforced. If you see cars double parked outside a church, and no tickets are given, that’s because double parking is not enforced outside churches and temples on specific holidays.

Giants Games

Parking signs near Giants games are not easy to decode. If you spot a sign with a color-code calendar, check before you park. If it’s a home game day, don’t park there. If not, it’s ok to park.

Curbing Your Wheels

For those who are not from San Francisco, we don’t always remember to curb our wheels. So pay attention to where you park, if you’re on a hill (even just a small hill), always curb your wheels. It doesn’t hurt.

Driveway Blocking

Enforcement is made when someone calls in to complain.

Other People Are Doing It

Just because others are doing it, it doesn’t mean you can do it too. This is what happen to me. I saw a number of cars stopped in front of the Caltrain station, so I assumed it’s the pickup/dropoff zone without looking carefully. The lesson? Don’t follow the crowd. Double check the signs before you park or stop (even for just a brief moment).

If you have any tips on avoiding tickets in San Francisco, please share them by leaving a comment below.