Park & ride outside SF for a couple of days?
August 30, 2017 3:16 PM   Subscribe

I'm visiting some friends in San Francisco this weekend and wanted to park my car somewhere north of the Golden Gate Bridge for Friday night, pick it up on Sunday morning. It seems like this will be a much less-expensive option than trying to park in SF proper. Is there a multi-day park & ride with transit down to the bridge where my car won't definitely be broken into?
posted by curious nu to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (14 answers total)
Is the North Berkeley Bart station a possibility? It's in a nice neighborhood and free on the weekend, but I wouldn't guarantee that your car won't be broken into.
posted by threesquare at 3:41 PM on August 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

Here's the thing about the general San Francisco area: your car might get broken into, anywhere you park. It's happened to three friends of mine, all in broad daylight, all in busy areas. So first of all you should commit to leaving nothing in your car -- at the very least, nothing visible. Not even the stuff you think isn't important, like an old dinged-up thermos or a half-flat basketball that's been sitting on the back seat for six months.
posted by BlahLaLa at 3:45 PM on August 30, 2017 [4 favorites]

I think you should be able to park on the street for free near Larkspur Ferry in San Rafael. If it's just on the weekend, you can also park free on the street near the BART stations in Berkeley. I don't know about paid parking. My car is always on the street and it's never been broken into, but yes, it could definitely happen.
posted by pinochiette at 3:49 PM on August 30, 2017

You could call Marin Airporter and see if you could just park in one of their terminals for a few days, and then take the Airporter bus to the Larkspur drop-off, walk across the street to the Ferry terminal, and take the ferry into the city. Or ride the airporter all the way to SFO and then BART back to the city.

Marin County is generally pretty safe, but you can't just leave your car anywhere. Marin Airporter is a good choice north of the city because their stock and trade is in keeping peoples' cars and ferrying them to the airport. It's a bit of a hassle, particularly because Marin Airporter won't drop you in downtown San Francisco anywhere, so you either have to take the ferry or ride all the way to SFO and then catch a BART train into the city. But it would work.
posted by cleverevans at 3:53 PM on August 30, 2017

When we visited a few years ago, we did the APLT (airport/long term parking) with BART. I don't remember which station we stayed at, but here is the list of the ones available.
posted by lizjohn at 3:59 PM on August 30, 2017

There's no need to leave your car in Marin. ParkInSF allows you to search for free, unrestricted street parking closest to a particular address.
posted by jesourie at 4:21 PM on August 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

I wouldn't even consider this, I'd just park in the city even if I had to pay. It'll likely be cheaper, way more convenient and if you park in a paid lot, much less likely to be broken into.
posted by fshgrl at 4:33 PM on August 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I think BART lots are a great idea. For the most part, after 3:00 pm (Friday for you) and all day Saturday and Sunday, parking is free. Millbrae and Colma have a couple thousand parking places each so there's no constraints.
As BlahLaLa warns, auto burglaries are epidemic in the Bay Area, more so in the City than Marin or the Peninsula probably. Wherever I park, I don't leave so much as a hat or empty coffee cup in sight.
posted by namret at 4:36 PM on August 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have thought about this aplenty, and I would find a storage unit that rents by the day, and Uber out of it to public transit.
posted by Oyéah at 7:01 PM on August 30, 2017

Best answer: There are lots of residential streets in (relatively) safe SF neighborhoods where someone could park for 3 days for free. For instance, between the Glen Park Bart station and City College where we live, there are some streets that have restricted parking, but many that don't.

The main thing is, wherever you park, leave nothing visible. Nothing at all.
posted by jasper411 at 7:21 PM on August 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You are making this way more complicated than it needs to be. Just drive into the city and either A) find a street spot in a neighborhood without residential parking restrictions, or B) find a pay lot and park in it.

I've been parking my car on the street in the Upper Haight for 15 years (no residential permit needed) and have never had any trouble finding a spot. This weekend in particular, Labor Day, the city will be relatively empty, as locals all head out to the mountains or the beach (I went last weekend!). I guarantee you will be able to find a street spot in my neighborhood, and many others, for Fri-Sat-Sun. To be specific, along Waller, Central Ave., Buena Vista West, and so on. If all fails there is a large pay lot on Stanyan that is convenient to the 7 bus and the N Judah streetcar, to get you wherever.

Public transportation from Marin, outside of the normal commute times, is pretty sparse. GG Transit buses are not that convenient, especially convenient to free parking. The ferries, especially on weekends, don't run that often, and ferry parking is strictly 24 hrs. at Larkspur Landing, the only really viable option.

BART suggestions are laughable - you're asking about the North Bay, and to state the obvious, BART only runs in the East and South Bay. Not to mention that heading from Marin into the East Bay on a holiday Friday night will be a traffic nightmare over the Richmond Bridge and on I-80. Also, BART is closing some stations in Oakland this weekend for track work, so the system will be less fun than usual, to say the least.

Really, just drive into the city. Find a street spot (pdf map) - or a parking lot - tuck valuables out of sight, and enjoy your visit. It will be fine. Trying to park in another city and transit in, on a holiday weekend, is just needless complication and won't be any cheaper (time or money wise) in the long run.
posted by gyusan at 7:54 PM on August 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

Best answer: What gyusan said. I live in the South Bay and am in SF 2-3 days a week. I pretty much always drive, especially on the weekends, and very, very rarely have to pay for parking. I feel more comfortable being able to check on my car every now and then, versus having it be 45 miles and 2 hours of trains away, and with the BART ride costing about $8 each way, it's not usually much of a savings. This has been my routine for about 5 years now, and every time I give in and take BART or CalTrain, I end up lyft-ing all the way home and regretting it. It's even more complicated if you're coming from the North Bay, because you are likely looking at a drive down to the East Bay to a BART station or taking a train to BART and then BART to the city. It is hours and hours of riding!

Not to forget, BART and CalTrain are both actually set up to be for workday commuters--meaning there are fewer trains, fewer stops, and lots of stations closed for track work on the weekends. It doesn't make sense for public transit to be less accessible when people are out seeking adventure, but that's how this particular system is set up.
posted by assenav at 10:38 PM on August 30, 2017

Best answer: Gyusan is correct. I hate hate hate driving in the city, probably do it for one trip in ten. But coming from Marin is definitely one where I'd drive in. The area immediately around the Golden Gate is pretty residential, not super hilly, just find a spot and you'll be fine. Car break-ins are super common, but they are truly crimes of opportunity. I do leave a couple of charging cables out, and have been fine so far, but you also hear about people who left a couple bucks in quarters out who had their cars broken into. I'm not sure a paid lot really gets you anything, because there's no way the attendant is going to look up from his or her phone to watch the cameras. And paid lots are where tourists park, and they tend not to be as careful about leaving items in view, so if anything thieves would prefer them to street parking.
posted by wnissen at 8:50 AM on August 31, 2017

Response by poster: Driving into the city was kind of super-stressful and it took forever to find a spot, and it wasn't close to my friends' place -- but I parked over in the northwest part of the city (thanks to gyusan's map) on Friday afternoon and the car was safe and intact this morning, so all's well that ends well. Thanks for the suggestions, everyone!
posted by curious nu at 6:35 PM on September 3, 2017 [1 favorite]

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