San Diego Parking Ticket Guide

Last Updated on September 12, 2021 by Snezana Grcak

Whether you plan on moving to San Diego and wish to learn more about street parking violations or you already got a ticket and want to contest it, you’re in the right place! Parking Access will give you all the relevant information and the best tips on avoiding or fighting a San Diego parking ticket. Dive into our guide to learn how to park and what’s the most efficient way to dispute your ticket. You will also learn all the payment methods if you choose to pay the fine instead.

All About San Diego Street Parking

San Diego dwellers and visitors have ample parking options, and street parking is usually convenient and painless. The city operates around 5,700 metered parking spots. Meters are enforced Monday through Saturday, between 8 AM and 6 PM, unless a posted sign indicates otherwise. 

Time limits and parking rates are variable. The standard parking rate is $0.25 per 15 minutes, and you can pay using coins, credit cards, or the Parkmobile app. According to CBS8, the City of San Diego has removed coin payment from 13% of meters and plans on going completely digital. Jose Ysea, a public information officer, says that it’s a win for traffic safety and efficiency, but not everyone is pleased with this decision. If paying with a credit card, you need to purchase a minimum of one hour of parking, which is $1.25. It’s not a significant difference, but it will be on an annual basis if you often stop for 10 minutes and pay for an hour.

Free Parking in San Diego

Free street parking in San Diego is available on Sundays and all national holidays, such as New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, and Thanksgiving. Note that, even though no payment is required on holidays, time limits will still be enforced. Other than that, it’s hard to find a free spot, but we discovered a couple of options. For example, you can park at the Central Library free of charge for up to two hours with validation for library users. Alternatively, some parking lots and garages have budget-friendly offers and are more affordable than street parking. Park It On Market in Downtown San Diego has an hourly rate of only $1.

Avoid San Diego Parking Tickets

Staying away from parking tickets is easy if you follow San Diego parking regulations and read street parking signs or meters carefully. Go through the listed rules and be sure to obey them if you wish to avoid getting a San Diego parking ticket. 

Parking is prohibited:

  • continuously at one location for over 72 hours
  • in a crosswalk or an intersection
  • on a sidewalk or a bridge
  • in a bus stop
  • less than 15 feet from a fire hydrant
  • on the roadway side of another parked car
  • in front of any private or public driveway

Alternatively, you can steer clear of parking fines by avoiding parking altogether. The City of San Diego has decent public transportation, and it might be even easier to get around without a car sometimes. The San Diego Trolley is the most popular choice, but you can also hop on an MTS bus to reach locations like downtown or San Diego Airport. The fare for both public transit services is $2.50.

San Diego Parking Citations

Parking ticket costs in San Diego depend on the violation, but you can pay as high as $450 if you park in a disabled parking space without a placard. They will charge you nearly $80 for parking in a fire lane, while other parking tickets cost $40 to $50. You need to pay within 21 calendar days except if you choose to dispute the ticket. Before you lodge a San Diego parking ticket appeal, discover if you have a legal ground to file it.

Can You Contest Your Parking Ticket?

Many factors can help you overturn your San Diego parking infringement. Here are the plausible reasons your ticket could be invalid:

  • Incorrect date, time, or county
  • Illegible handwriting
  • Wrong license plate number, type of vehicle, model, or color
  • Missing details about your vehicle
  • Faded or unclear parking sign
  • Broken parking meter
  • Sold or stolen vehicle

If you think you have any chance of winning your San Diego parking ticket appeal, learn the proper way of disputing it. 

How To Dispute a San Diego Parking Ticket

Parking Access can help you go through the process stress-free and even speed it up! Here are the steps you should follow when you get a ticket:

  1. Don’t leave right away. Before you withdraw from the scene, see if there’s anything that may help you contest your citation. Take a picture of the vehicle or sign if necessary and be sure to save your receipt.
  2. Submit an Administrative Review request. Include your statement, photographs, map, or receipt. Don’t forget to add the citation number and license plate number, as well as a clear copy of the citation. The copy isn’t necessary, but it may help you accelerate the process. Send it to PO Box 129038, San Diego, CA 92112-9038.
  3. Present the appeal to an Administrative hearing officer. If your first appeal is denied, make a hearing request via mail or call 866-470-1308.
  4. Appeal to the Superior Court. If the Administrative hearing officer’s decision is unsatisfactory, this is your last step. The Court will take a look at the case and come to a final conclusion. Note that this appeal requires paying a $25 Civil Court Filing Fee, which will be refunded if your citation is dismissed.

If this process seems tiring and bothersome, there’s a way to pick up speed! DoNotPay can help you dispute your ticket in no time. Answer several questions regarding your citation and upload a photo before you let the world’s first robot lawyer create your appeal letter.


  • How much is a parking ticket in San Diego?

It depends on the violation. For an expired meter, it’s around $30, but it can be $450 if you use a handicapped parking spot without a placard. On average, the tickets are slightly over $50.

  • How do I pay my San Diego parking ticket?

Pay your ticket online or call 866-470-1308. Do it within 21 days of receiving the citation.

  • What happens if I don’t pay a parking ticket in San Diego?

Unpaid parking citations lead to additional fees and penalties. We strongly suggest either paying or contesting it as soon as possible.

  • How can I get out of a parking ticket?

You can file a San Diego parking ticket appeal. Go through all the steps listed in our How To Dispute section.

  • Can you park on the street overnight in San Diego?

Overnight parking in San Diego is free because most meters operate throughout the day only. Don’t forget to check the sign, and note that you cannot park at one location for over 72 hours continuously.

We can help you with your parking tickets in other major cities, too! Go through our guides to discover more about parking citations in Austin, San Francisco, New York City, Denver, and Dallas!

Don't miss a single parking deal

Stay one step ahead with our parking deals, tips and news sent straight to your inbox.

Invalid email address
You can unsubscribe at any time.