I’m tired of San Francisco Parking Tickets

This post was written by marc on August 9, 2003
Posted Under: General

I’m starting a Web Site and Discussion Forum for people who are wanting to organize to fight San Frsncisco Parking Tickets.

San Francisco is the most inefficient city government on the planet. Kind of a welfare state for the politically correct who seem to think that the evil people who drive cars should be taxed to death. It’s not enough that we pay gas taxes, huge license plate taxes, and it’s 5 bucks to drive across the Golden Gate bridge. There’s no parking in San Francisco and the racket is to pass out as many parking tickets as possible in a manner that is really a tax and not a civil penality.

I’d love to find a lawyer who wanted to bring a case against the city on the basis that this is really a tax and an illegal one at that. I am working on one loophole in the system though – the requirement that the VIN number be on the ticket. It only requires the last 4 digits – but San Francisco tickets don’t have that. They always put NV (not visible) when in fact it is visible.

The law ays that they shall put the VIN number on the ticket and if I have to comply with the law – so do they. So I’m contesting every ticket I get that fails to comply with the law.

California Vehicle Code – Section 40202

(a) If a vehicle is unattended during the time of the violation, the peace officer or person authorized to enforce parking laws and regulations shall securely attach to the vehicle a notice of parking violation setting forth the violation, including reference to the section of this code or of the Public Resources Code, the local ordinance, or the federal statute or regulation so violated; the date; the approximate time thereof; the location where the violation occurred; a statement printed on the notice indicating that the date of payment is required to be made not later than 21 calendar days from the date of citation issuance; and the procedure for the registered owner, lessee, or rentee to deposit the parking penalty or, pursuant to Section 40215, contest the citation. The notice of parking violation shall also set forth the vehicle license number and registration expiration date if they are visible, the last four digits of the vehicle identification number, if that number is readable through the windshield, the color of the vehicle, and, if possible, the make of the vehicle. The notice of parking violation, or copy thereof, shall be considered a record kept in the ordinary course of business of the issuing agency and the processing agency and shall be prima facie evidence of the facts contained therein.

(b) The notice of parking violation shall be served by attaching it to the vehicle either under the windshield wiper or in another conspicuous place upon the vehicle so as to be easily observed by the person in charge of the vehicle upon the return of that person.

(c) Once the issuing officer has prepared the notice of parking violation and has attached it to the vehicle as provided in subdivisions

(a) and

(b), the officer shall file the notice with the processing agency. Any person, including the issuing officer and any member of the officer’s department or agency, or any peace officer who alters, conceals, modifies, nullifies, or destroys, or causes to be altered, concealed, modified, nullified, or destroyed the face of the remaining original or any copy of a citation that was retained by the officer, for any reason, before it is filed with the processing agency or with a person authorized to receive the deposit of the parking penalty, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

(d) If, during the issuance of a notice of parking violation, without regard to whether the vehicle was initially attended or unattended, the vehicle is driven away prior to attaching the notice to the vehicle, the issuing officer shall file the notice with the processing agency. The processing agency shall mail, within 15 calendar days of issuance of the notice of parking violation, a copy of the notice of parking violation or transmit an electronic facsimile of the notice to the registered owner.

(e) If, within 21 days after the notice of parking violation is attached to the vehicle, the issuing officer or the issuing agency determines that, in the interest of justice, the notice of parking violation should be canceled, the issuing agency, pursuant to subdivision

(a) of Section 40215, shall cancel the notice of parking violation or, if the issuing agency has contracted with a processing agency, shall notify the processing agency to cancel the notice of parking violation pursuant to subdivision

(a) of Section 40215. The reason for the cancellation shall be set forth in writing. If, after a copy of the notice of parking violation is attached to the vehicle, the issuing officer determines that there is incorrect data on the notice, including, but not limited to, the date or time, the issuing officer may indicate in writing, on a form attached to the original notice, the necessary correction to allow for the timely entry of the notice on the processing agency’s data system. A copy of the correction shall be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.

(f) Under no circumstances shall a personal relationship with any officer, public official, or law enforcement agency be grounds for cancellation.

Reader Comments

I just got a parking ticket from this “Parking control service” for a stupid reason while I was shopping in South San Francisco Ross. It says on the ticket the car might be towed if I don’t pay. Did anybody deal with these guys before? Any useful information is appreciated.

Written By Tina on May 2nd, 2007 @ 12:59 am

Your driveway begins at the property line and extends as far as your garage. If your garage door is AT the property line, you have no driveway. You can park across the curb cut, parallel to traffic, but not on ANY PART of the side walk.
Roads for cars
sidewalks for people
not too hard to remember, I hope

Written By Tom on May 9th, 2007 @ 8:39 pm

Here’s a couple of useful definitions:

Sidewalk – portion of the street between the edge of curb and the fronting property line. Thus, if you parked in your driveway, but your vehicle extended beyond the property line, you are blocking the sidewalk and could be cited. Note that DPT goes out on a complaint basis, so someone walking by, or your neighbor, had to have complained in the first place. Also, when they go out in response to a complaint, they ticket all violations along the entire block, not just the complaint itself, to avoid a neighbor versus neighbor quarrel. Note that it makes no difference how much room is behind the vehicle for a pedestrian to cross. If you’re in the sidewalk, you’re in the sidewalk and the parking control officer is required to cite, period. Don’t forget, someone called DPT out there first! Bottom line, if you have a neighbor that routinely and egregiously blocks the sidewalk, it’s only a matter of time before someone complains and everyone gets ticketed. Try to work it out with them before that happens.

Crosswalk – a painted crosswalk is self-explanatory. An unmarked crosswalk is typically the two lines connecting sidewalk edge to sidewalk edge and property line to property line. This is how most painted crosswalks are painted. A good rule of thumb is if you’re vehicle sticks out beyond the curb return (the curved portion of the sidewalk corner), you’re probably in the unmarked crosswalk, blocking a ramp, or both.

Driveway – Is the point at which the curb begins to slope downward. It is not the edge of the garage door. Some driveways have red tips, some legal, some illegal. Driveway tickets are also issued on a complaint basis.

“No DP Placard” – This is simply a note on the citation that the Parking Control Officer has checked the vehicle to see if a disabled placard was displayed.

Written By anonymous on May 30th, 2007 @ 11:44 am

Yes, i am angry as hell also! I was gonna go on a crusade also because i got so pissed off! I’ve been driving in sf for 14 yrs or so and i ‘ve seen these vultures are such jerks.

Double parking tickets for $75, can you believe that? A couple yrs ago when they started to crack down on double parking ( i ran into a restaurant for like 5-8 secs! to freaking pay for my take out) and got ticketed at the same block on 3 separate occasions.

A couple weeks ago, i parked on a sunday at about 7-8pm in the middle of a block. And i got ticketed and it said that it was a red zone, $75. What the hell is a ‘red zone’ doing int he middl eof afreaking block? IT was faded. I’m writing in, i dont think i have a chance, as you all know they are there to get you. so hopefully i ‘ll be able to get a face to face hearing.

several yrs ago when i wnet to school at a Uni they even hire students to write out tickets and they made those meters enforce from 9am-9pm. and you can protest and request for a hearing or some sort but you’d have to pay a ‘fee’. It’s crazy.

a couple yrs ago i got ultra-upset when they started going into PRIVATE PROPERTY to cite. (shopping plazas where stores like Ross, safeway, 24 fitness are). I was in sf’s potrereo hill shopping plaza (old Melody toyota). IT was holiday season, around christmas holiday). as usual i wnet to 24 hour fitness to swim. i parked in the lot. the lot had a ‘3 hour parking ‘ sign on it. i swam and showered, went upstairs to safeway to get a couple items, and then went to ross. When i got back, it might have been a lit’ over 3 hours, but those A****Holes slapped me with a $75 ticket. y’know how full the entire parking lot was during htat time and it was simply immoral and inhumane to give out tickets knowing full well that during the holiday season lines could be 1 hr long! I wrote a letter and sent a copy of my 24 hr gym card, a safeway recipet. they later replied and said they wont accept it and ‘how do we know u were at the gym’. i was sooo upset. This again happened at another safeway shopping plaza (on Market st.) which allows only 1 hr parking. This time i made some noise as i was mad as hell up to the cashier. cashier just kept saying ‘call a number’ but u know when they refer u to one, it’s useless…i continued to argue & requested to see the mgr. and i told them how disgusting i found them to do this to patrons…anyway, after some more noise, he took the ticket away (i’m sure many ppl were upset abt it also) …i told them hell if you’re gonna have a coffee shop, sell food /meals, then you shd expect ppl to eat here. how can you do this to customers. insane. $75 tickets.

2 weeks ago i got another one on a sunday. i was on a slight hill and i forgot to turn my wheels. and got nailed. i just can’t believe how insane this is.

i was thinking of writing letters and collecting signatures. And going out to video and pohotograph illegal parking and how THOSE dont’ get tickets. (eg some churches aroudn town i’ve noticed simply double or triple park)…there’s a street on Valencia (?) where i’ve seen rows of cars park in the middle of the street! it seems to be a common practice.

Written By La Profe on May 31st, 2007 @ 3:39 am

I’m so glad to have found this thread and to see it’s still alive! I would happily be a part of any legal action we could take to force DPT to behave within the law. I spent $80 to fight a ticket that had no VIN even though the VIN is required and my VIN is legible, it was denied. Recently, I got a ticket for parking in front of a parking sign that was illegible due to graffiti. My dispute was denied. I demanded a hearing. My hearing was denied. This was 8 months ago, and the sign is still defaced with the same graffiti, and it continues to presumably generate thousands of dollars in DPT revenue from all the poor souls who can’t read it. The other sign on the same block is also defaced. I’m going to take this case next to the superior court.

Written By Mitch on June 30th, 2007 @ 8:05 am

People should carry baseball bats in their cars to beat parking officers with.

Written By Larry on July 12th, 2007 @ 9:18 am

Be it SF or LA, parking tickets are the government’s ability to put there ho’s on the street (parking enforcement) and bring the pimp (city) back their money. One thing is true, not all pimps are in Las Vegas!

Written By Darren Chaker on July 16th, 2007 @ 11:02 pm

The SF Parking Racqueteering Scammers sizes up to nothing more than another way to steal money and rape the citizens. Most cities in this country are designed AROUND automobiles, therefore we are put into the NEED to use them, on the whole that is. So what do they do? They TAX us to have to drive and park and make us waste our time contantly thinking about it. Could you imagine being taxed on using doors to get into your work? You can only go through those doors at certain times? Same sh*t. Since people have to drive, in general, we should be required to have parking available, for free. That is what our supposed state taxes and bridge tolls are for, right? Our money, our say! It would be EASY to create public parking that made sense, but that is not in the EVIL interests of the corrupt power structure. Our reality is only possible because we LET it be. Until more people become aware of the monstrosity that our world has become, nothing will change. We were warned centuries ago, by many, as to the world in which we now live and accept. See following quote:

If we run into such debts as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our NECESSARIES and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, and give the earnings of fifteen of these to the government for their debts and daily expenses; And the sixteen being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they do now, on oatmeal and potatoes, have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account; But be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains around the necks of our fellow sufferers; And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second, that second for a third, and so on ’til the bulk of society is reduced to mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering…and the forehorse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.
-Thomas Jefferson (yes, really)

Written By Energ8t on July 19th, 2007 @ 9:54 am

I am furious with SF’s DPT. Today I got a $50 ticket for parking over an hour in a one hour zone. The ticket said my car was checked at 10:30am. I WAS HOME AT 10:30am?! What makes me even more mad is that I noted to myself that I left my car at 11:50am to meet someone at 12noon. The ticket was issued at 11:54am. GRRR! I want to screaaaam.

Written By candiegr on July 31st, 2007 @ 2:14 pm

I received a notice of delinquent parking violation in the mail today, but I never got a citation on my car. Don’t they have to charge you first, or does SF just put notices in the mail hoping that I will just pay? I even used one of those parking chip cards and kept feeding the meter like a good South Bay visitor.

I will note my parking chip card number in my contest to prove I actually did pay prior to and perhaps after the actual time of violation (alleged because I never received the citation and no I didn’t not drive away), but this was almost a month ago.
Yes I will contest the citation, but does anyone in DPT really read these?

Written By sj-visitor on August 1st, 2007 @ 12:45 am

Actually, that’s a good idea, sj-visitor. I’ve heard that you can get a pre-loaded card to feed the meter. Do you get a statement that shows the dates, times, and locations where you used the meter? If so, I think you could use that information as a defense.

Also, I think it’s a good idea, if you use parking meters while on business (for example, I sell on eBay so I go to thrift stores a lot and spend a lot on meters)…it’s a good idea to have one card for business use and another card for personal use, that way you can document your business-related parking expenses.

And no, parking fines are not a deductible business expense – at least not when I last got audited by the IRS!

Written By Alexandra on August 2nd, 2007 @ 2:42 pm

The SF parking cards are not like Fastrak. They’re like pre-paid calling cards, only with a smart chip on them. There’s no registration, so no statement to show transaction history visible to me. Come to think of it, most pre-paid smart chip cards I have used in the past store history on the chip itself. I’m not sure if the SF meters store transaction history on them, but this is what I am hoping to show in my defense.

Contesting the ticket is such a pain, no wonder many people just cough up the $40 fine. But not me. If they want their $40, they’ll have to show me what I allegedly did. No blank checks for SF! They’ve already got my $20 in an interest free loan with my pre-paid parking card, isn’t that enough!

I will say that SF did something right by making these pre-paid parking cards in the first place because they are very convenient. I bought one at a liquor store about 1/2 a block from my parking spot, so it’s possible the meter maid could have nabbed me between coin feeds and when I bought the card.

Written By sj-visitor on August 5th, 2007 @ 1:55 am

Despite hours of trying, I’ve been unable to find a real set of parking rules online. For example I got a ticket indicating I’d violated TC315a – the residential permit law. Some people say that this law means that you have to move your car at least a block away rather than moving and reparking on the same block. I can’t find a description of what the law exactly is online – I can just find several pages indicating the fine. municode.com doesn’t have it, nor does the SF government site. Do I actually have to go to the library to figure out what the rules are?

Written By JMS on August 9th, 2007 @ 2:05 pm

If signs are missing, eligible, etc., you should appeal!



No provisions of this Code requiring signs shall be enforceable against the alleged violator if at the time and place of the alleged violation the sign required by this Code is not in position and sufficiently legible to be seen by an ordinarily observant person.
(Ord. 890, App. 10/24/40)

Where parking limitations are provided for in this Code, signs shall be erected and maintained not more than 200 feet apart, indicating by legible letters, words and figures the hours prescribed for said parking limitations within 100 feet on either side of the sign, except that such signs need not be placed within the boundaries of the grounds of a public institution, provided signs stating the parking limitations within such boundaries are erected at each entrance to the grounds of such public institution.
(Amended by Ord. 58-74, App. 1/23/74; Ord. 239-00, File No. 001598, App. 10/20/2000)

Written By jey on August 10th, 2007 @ 11:14 am

I’ve been ticketed by DPT a few times, a few times unfairly (fast running meter mostly). And yes, it’s a PITA to fight a ticket.

But seriously, most of the complaints here are quite ludicris. Hey, learn to READ the signs. Respect people’s driveways. If you’re stopping at a bus stop don’t sit their listening to loud music and yapping on the phone but BE ATTENTIVE SINCE YOUR IN THE WRONG! If you didn’t get your resident sticker, why are you still parking there day after day after being ticketed without getting some sort of resolution immediately!

COMMON SENSE saves you lots of money! I’ve been driving in the city for 15+ years and I can not say I’ve been “unjustly” ticketed other than fast running meters wich is not really the PCO’s fault. I know parking is a BIT** in the city, but that’s the price of being where everyone wants to be.

Written By SF Resident on August 19th, 2007 @ 2:29 am

I have just recieved a $75.00 ticket. I was parked at a space on Funston street in the Inner Richmond. The ticket was for blocking a drive way. I was not blocking the driveway and took photos of my car to prove it. I will fight this ticket but I don’t have I much hope of getting it dropped. I have those really annoying neighbors that call and complain too. The ticket stated there was a complaint. Is it true that the officer has to issue a ticket if there is a complaint? Can’t they use their best judgement?I have gone to a hearing for this once before. The officer that issued the ticket is NOT required to attend hearings and in a situation where it’s your word against the officers they will always error on the officers side, even though they are not at the hearing. It seems you actually have to go to court (not just a hearing) if you want anything to happen. On a side note this may be a hot tip: I was told by a meter maid that if I claimed I was having car trouble in my protest for a ticket they would drop the ticket. I did this once and they did in fact drop the ticket but they would not disclose a reason for doing
so. Great Site. Thanks for letting me release my rage.

Written By Heidi on August 21st, 2007 @ 4:07 pm

I have a good one for you, and im going looking for more info on it. but the cushmans that the meter people drive is considered to be a motorcycle, so the person driving it told me.
Well they dont wear a DOT aproved helmet like im required to wear while on my motorcycle. they are using a Bell brand bicycle helmet. I called bell and asked if any of there bicycle helmets were DOT approved, and they said that they werent.
I scream foul here.

Written By Demo man on August 23rd, 2007 @ 2:28 pm

I sent in my protest letter for my non-existent ticket. In turn I receive a letter from SFMTA/DPT that says that due to an increase in parking citation protests, my review may take 4 months.

Either the city is being a bunch of lazy asses, or good folks like you are protesting your citations, making the city work harder for their money.

Written By sj-visitor on August 23rd, 2007 @ 11:09 pm

I’d like to say that one way to get their attention would be to stage a protest. I think that people would turn out in droves for “Tell the DPW What You Really Think Day.” These smug bastards sit around and delude themselves into believing that they’re somehow “really helping” the people of the city, and ignoring the basic truth that no one with any respect for humanity should ever work for the DPW. I’m trying the VIN Defense, we’ll see if these scum bags rescind the ticket.

Now when they come back with there (effortless) “no” answer, is there a way to have the judge or referee “reviewed” for not upholding the law? Can we get these bastards disbarred?

Written By amystetson on May 17th, 2008 @ 6:03 pm

The comments here are the best argument for Stoic or Buddhist or Christian detachment I’ve seen in years. Without complaining, we pay $10 for watered down drinks and $200 for pretentious dinners and buy lottery tickets with 1 in a million chances. Then we hang out in the car in front of a bus stop talking on the cell phone and get furious that we get ticketed.

When it happens to me I get mad too, like everyone else. I hate getting those damn tickets MORE than you all. I hate it so much that when I park in front of the bus stop, I keep an eye on the rear view mirror. Unless you really zone out, you can always move before they pull up and start writing the ticket. It’s worked for 25 years. So far, so good. I still park illegally when I feel like it. It’s cheaper than Reno or Vegas.

One person complained about getting double-parking tickets 3 times on the same block. Dude, you are one SERIOUS optimist! Maybe that’s not such a good block to double-park on. Consider blocking traffic on a different block for a change.

You say there was graffiti on the sign? Great: take a picture and get a hearing. If you really can’t read it, you might get a break. You weren’t really encroaching on the curb cut for the disabled? Great: take a picture and get a hearing. If you really weren’t sticking out, you might get a break.

If you really hate the rules, try buying an old clunker and never registering it. Park anywhere you like till they tow it away, then buy another. Tony Serra used this method for awhile.

To the guy who’s made about the tickets in the private parking lot: those are fake tickets. They’re impersonating DTP (what would be more humiliating that having to pretend to be as important a person as a meter maid?). You don’t have to pay, and you can tell the store manager how irritating it is to get those things. In the long run, the owner will put up gates and charge everyone to park there, including the real customers. Is this better? You decide.

Written By Deedub on August 25th, 2008 @ 7:28 pm

After looking around on the web a bit, I think “TC202 Parking meter/OUT Down” simply means this is a parking meter violation, which occurred OUTSIDE of DOWNTOWN”. Downtown parking fines are slightly higher. In other words I don’t think this violation in any way indicates a problem with the meter itself.

Written By polamil on September 12th, 2008 @ 3:02 pm


Can anyone give me suggestions on the best way to fight a citation for parking in a bus zone. I realize I actually did park there (for less than 5 minutes) but the VIN # was not included, only my license plate number, make and model and color of the car. IN the space for a VIN# it says “can not read” which is not true becasue it is easily readable. I think the parking natzi just wanted to print the ticket as fast as possible knowing that I would be back in my car momentarily.

Any helpful hints?

Written By hy.there on February 17th, 2010 @ 11:53 pm

Add a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.