They call parking in San Francisco a game of cat and mouse. They forget that with a little ingenuity, Jerry kicked Tom’s ass on the regular.

Last year, San Francisco issued over 2 million parking citations totaling $100 million in revenue for the city. As budgets continue to sag, you can guarantee that police and parking officials are under orders to swoop down upon all infractions like owls to field mice.

Parking expert David LaBua, who estimates he once spent up to 52 hours a week searching for parking, has written a book entitled “Finding the Sweet Spot,” in which he details the myriad ways San Francisco drivers can avoid the scrutinizing eyes of parking enforcement officers.

Some of his favorite tips:

— Check the white zones first because they often don’t have meters.

— Most passenger loading zones are ONLY ENFORCED during business hours, and many yellow commercial loading zones are only in effect until 1 PM.

— Red capped parking meters, which signify six wheel parking spots, are often only in effect for four hours at a time.

— Out of order meter=free parking

— Avoid towing by: remembering that parking restrictions are enforced until 100 feet from the sign, curb your wheel on any street with more than a 3 percent grade (basically, every street in San Francisco), keep wheels within 18 inches of the curb, and remember your front license plate.

We salute LaBua for paving the way in the exploitation of parking loopholeology. Remember, in parking as in life, always read the small print.

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  • jonahhorowitz

    My technique is very simple – I don’t own a car.

  • Tip #1: Bike
    Tip #2: MUNI
    Tip #3: Walk

  • ellen

    Set your iPhone alarm for 3 minutes before it will expire when you put money in a meter. And carry prepaid cards so you don’t have to search for change.

  • Akit

    My easiest suggestion, get to your location early. Want a space on Irving street? Do your business at 9AM when the stores open-up.

  • cedichou

    You have to remember that creativity of the party parking the car is matched by the lack of shame by the party ticketing the car. You just can’t win. I have tickets for “blocking a crosswalk” in a street with no sidewalk. As if my car was preventing someone from climbing that fence.

  • friscolex

    I thought broken meter meant you couldn’t park there??

    That said, I fully agree with jonahhorowitz and John Murphy. Can’t remember the last time I stressed about parking…

    And remember, drivers, more people on bikes and MUNI and foot means calmer roads for you, too!

    Happy trails, people!

  • David

    To answer Friscolex’s question: You are allowed to park at a broken meter for the maximum amount of time that the meter allows. After that you can be ticketed. Ellen’s tip of setting your phone alarm to let you know when your meter is about to expire is a great one. I use the calendar function on my phone to remind me about street sweeping too. While you’re at it, put your license plate number into your phone…here’s why:
    There is a scam that is catching on where people will take their parking ticket and put it on a similar make and model vehicle in the hopes that the person will just pay it.

    Another tip is that DPT doesn’t use chalk any more very much. They have electronic devices that keep track of how long you were in a 2 hour zone…so just because there is no chalk, you aren’t necessarily safe.

    SF tows over 100,000 cars a year, and 12,000-15,000 are auctioned off every year as it will cost about $500 to get it out, and about $1000 after a week. They auction off these cars every week at pier 72

    Check out the tips page of the website for more: