Where in SF should I park my car?
December 10, 2006 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Where can I park in San Francisco?

I haven't found a place to live yet (am staying with a friend) and need someplace that doesn't require a permit to park my car. Ideally this would be somewhere safe and I'd only have to move it once a week for street sweeping if I wasn't going to use it.
Any suggestions?
posted by BuddhaInABucket to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Yikes! Good luck!
I lived in Haight Ashbury for a few months and there is a reasonable amount of street parking on the side streets, especially because of the Panhandle Park along Oak and Fell. By 'reasonable', I mean that if I drove to work and got home before 5:00 pm I would be able to find a spot pretty fast. Arriving at 6 or 7 would often require 15 to 20 minutes of increased-radius concentric circling (very frustrating, but on the plus side, it drove me into becoming a cyclist, which was great in the long run). And you only have to move it once a week - but it's a different day on each street! Often available spots are free only because street cleaning is the next morning.

I don't think I ever saw a neighborhood and remarked, "wow, there sure is a lot of parking here". It's a nightmare everywhere unless you have your own driveway or underground lot or something. Or you go out to the suburbs.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:44 PM on December 10, 2006

Without knowing where you are in SF, it's hard to make a recommendation. Most of the south side of the city is much less dense, if you're looking just to leave a car somewhere you can do that. Try looking about half a mile from West Portal.

SF's parking rules technically say you can only leave a car in one place for some short period of time - I think three days. You're only likely to get caught if someone calls and complains.
posted by Nelson at 12:47 PM on December 10, 2006

See this map of residential permit zones (rather large PDF file). The short answer is, it's designed to be hard for non-residents to park in the city. The best solution might be to pay to park it somewhere (a week? 2?) until you get a resident sticker.

However, if you really need it to be free, you might have some luck in Noe Valley (west of the Zs and south of the Ss on that map), which is rather near the J train and several bus lines, and has lots of streets in the western part that don't require a permit, and are frequently free during the day when all the Noe people are at work.

Oh, safety: the central part of Noe isn't bad. In the 6 months total I parked my car in SF, I had the stereo stolen once, when parked on the Mission side of Noe. Several unmarked parts of this map, like the wrong side of Potrero Hill and Bayview, would be substantially worse.
posted by rkent at 12:48 PM on December 10, 2006

Best answer: There's a street near my house that is non-permit. In fact, there's a piece of it that is non-street-cleaning (I'm pretty sure). My roommate used to leave her car there when she went out of town (she didn't have a street permit for a while).

Okay, so how to describe -- it's a little piece of 20th Street in the Castro/lower Noe neighborhood. From Market Street drive South on Noe. Pass 18th and 19th Street. When you get to what should be 20th, on the left 20th does this weird curly-Q thing. So do a very hard left unto 20th from Noe. It will curve and dead-end. That whole strip is non-permit, and the very top is non-street cleaning.

If you find a non-permit site, but it's street cleaning, the street cleaning tickets are either $35 or $40.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 1:02 PM on December 10, 2006

I'll give you a pointer to one area in densely packed Hayes Valley: Oak Street between Gough and Laguna. It's not always easy to find a space here, but you only have to move for street cleaning, once a week. There are other streets within a few blocks of there that are similarly signed, but I'll let you find them -- if I give away too many secrets, I won't be allowed back in the neighborhood :)

There's loads of parking on the avenues in the West side of the city, in the outer Richmond and outer Sunset neighborhoods, and a goodly amount in the area around Mount Davidson and Laguna Honda. This may be what other posters referred to as "the suburbs".
posted by toxic at 1:38 PM on December 10, 2006

Oak Street between Gough and Laguna

Crap. I meant Fell Street between Gough and Laguna.
posted by toxic at 1:39 PM on December 10, 2006

SF's parking rules technically say you can only leave a car in one place for some short period of time - I think three days.

I want to emphasize this strongly. There is tons of parking in my neighborhood - Bernal Heights, but I wouldnt advise you park here. Why? There seem to be self-appointed vigilantes here who call to have cars towed if they have been here more than a few days even though this is not in violation of any of the street signs.

Its all very mysterious. They seem to know which cars are owned by residents. When I first got my current car and left town for a weekend I got one of those "You must move this car or it will be towed!" sign from DPT. Recently, I've left my car street-parked for weeks. So, I guess my car became familiar or I made it on some list...
posted by vacapinta at 2:17 PM on December 10, 2006

yeah, large swaths of twin peaks are permit-free, but there is the same unofficial policing stuff vacapinta describes.
posted by judith at 2:39 PM on December 10, 2006

also, you can get a friend to purchase a visitor permit for you that's good for up to 8 weeks (depending how much you pay)
posted by judith at 2:41 PM on December 10, 2006

Judith is right- getting your friend to obtain a visitor permit would be the easiest for you, but it means a trip to the dreaded DPT, which isn't fun for them. Then you could park in the neighborhood where you are, just like the locals.
posted by ambrosia at 4:38 PM on December 10, 2006

My favorite was Mission District near Van Ness. I lived on 6th and Market and kept my car around 15th and Folsom (thanks a lot for not offering permits to residents on 6th street, DPT!) for over a year. If you're not using your car every day, finding a spot isn't awful. Nobody narcs you out for not moving it (in fact, on street sweeping days you'll see people pushing their non-op cars into new spots or onto the sidewalk), and it's relatively safe (ie, I never had a break-in, although I did make sure my car was clear of anything tempting, and the car in question was a 1990 toyota tercel). This area has the benefit of being very accessible by BART and right next to the freeway onramps.

If your friend can get a visitor's permit though, I'd go that way.
posted by fishfucker at 3:47 PM on December 11, 2006

Dolores street has a block or two with no permit parking, but there is street cleaning. IIRC, somewhere between 22nd and 25th. Check all signs carefully: it may not be true on both sides of the street.
posted by oneirodynia at 5:09 PM on December 11, 2006

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