SF parking tickets

Ultimate Guide: SF Parking Tickets (Avoid + Dispute)

With San Francisco’s tricky roads and complex parking rules, it can be easy to get a parking ticket in the city. This guide shares everything you need to know about SF parking tickets including how to avoid them, where the most ticketed areas are, how to dispute, and more.  

Avoiding Tickets

Similar to Los Angeles and some other California cities, getting a parking ticket in San Francisco can be easy. For one, some of their street parking signs can be nearly impossible to read! Luckily, there are a few easy transportation alternatives that can help you avoid pricey parking tickets. 

High-Ticketed Areas 

Some San Francisco neighborhoods receive more parking tickets than others, so you’ll want to be extra careful when parking in these areas. Make sure to thoroughly read the signs and ensure it’s alright for you to park. These areas include Soma, Inner Richmond, Western Addition, and Financial District. 

Public Transportation

San Francisco’s public transportation system is one of the best in the country and is a great way to avoid SF parking tickets. For one, their old-fashioned cable cars and trolleys are a unique and exciting way to get around the city! You can also get around using their regular buses, light rail, taxis, electric scooter rentals, bike rentals, or even ferries. On top of that, public transport is much cheaper than garage parking in the city and better for the environment

Disputing Your SF Parking Ticket

If you got a parking ticket, don’t pay it yet – make sure to check if it’s invalid! Many people just pay up without checking, but incorrect parking tickets occur more likely than you’d imagine. 

Potential Reasons Your Ticket Could be Invalid: 

  • Unable to read the handwriting
  • Wrong date of issuance, time, or county
  • Incorrect or missing vehicle information (i.e. wrong license plate number, plate type, vehicle color, model year, vehicle manufacturer, etc.)
  • Signage issues – perhaps the parking signs gave incorrect information or weren’t visible 
  • Malfunctioning parking meter
  • They didn’t specify whether you were parked in ‘Front of’ or ‘Opposite’ the address in question
  • You were given a ticket for not having a parking permit, but your permit was displayed
  • You weren’t the owner of the vehicle at the time (you’ll need to prove it)
  • Your car was stolen (you’ll need to prove it).

How to Dispute a San Francisco Parking Ticket

If you think your ticket was unfairly written, you can always file a dispute. There’s a great chance they will throw it out! Luckily, disputing is a fairly simple process. Keep reading to learn how to fight a traffic ticket in San Francisco. 

Gather Evidence 

If you haven’t left the scene yet, always try to gather as much evidence as you can to prove you’re innocent. If the parking sign wasn’t visible, a picture of this would be perfect evidence. However, you can still dispute San Francisco parking tickets if you don’t have photos. 

Don’t Pay Your Ticket

Some people make the mistake of paying their ticket and then deciding they want to dispute. If this happens, you assume liability and there is no way for you to dispute. 

Dispute Online (or Send a Letter)

Most cities (including San Francisco) allow you to easily file for a parking ticket dispute online. For example, the SFMTA pay citation page also has a link that takes you to the page to file your dispute. If you prefer, you can write a formal letter and mail it to the city or drop it off at their office. When mailing, make sure to purchase tracking information to ensure it reaches them. 

When writing your dispute claim, make sure to write with proper grammar and clearly explain your defense. Try searching for templates online to see how similar letters are written. 

Attend Your Hearing

While most parking tickets are resolved without requiring a hearing, it’s possible for them to request one. If so, simply attend the hearing and provide your story. 

Paying Your Ticket

If you can’t dispute, you’ll have to pay your San Francisco parking ticket within 21 days. Missing this due date results in a $12 late fee, as well as accruing late fees if you continue nonpayment. You can pay online, by phone, or in person. 

Vehicles that have 5+ total tickets will get their car booted or towed. If you’re experiencing financial difficulties, they offer a payment plan to help split up your payments across a few months. The city even offers a community service option if you’re really unable to pay your parking tickets. 

San Francisco Parking Ticket Prices

Wondering how much you should expect a ticket to cost? We’ve listed a few common violations and their prices below so you can compare them with averages

Invalid Permit – $110

Motorcycle Parking – $110

Red Zone – $102

White Zone – $87

Residential Parking – $87

Angled Parking – $87

Overtime Parking – $76 to $87 depending on the area

Street Cleaning – $76

Bottom Line

Overall, it’s a great idea to take caution when parking in San Francisco – SF parking tickets can be spendy and easy to get. Even San Francisco airport parking can be a chore! Overall, it’s important to thoroughly read parking signs and meters. If you want to avoid tickets altogether, try to find garage parking or use an alternative transportation method listed above.