These are the two really bad things about San Francisco, and getting worse. San Francisco is a fine city! Parking fines, such as parking by a fire hydrant, bus zone, even a handicapped sidewalk ramp, will now cost you $270 and up. Block a driveway, and you will be towed in a heartbeat. Ticket + towing can easily pass $500. Be sure to read all the signs by the side of the street and read parking meters too before you put money in them. Most parking meters allow credit cards now as well as quarters, dimes and nickels. If you’re going to stay more than a week, you might buy an SFMTA (Municipal Transportation Agency) parking card. They come in $20 and $50. Check out “Buy parking cards” at www.sfmta.com. No discount, just convenient. Some meters also allow you to pay with your cellphone. A few of the meters in tourist areas are up to $6/hour which is a 24 quarters, 48 quarters for 2 hours (if the meter allows that much time). Read the meter!
In downtown areas during the week, there is “Rush Hour” Tow-Away at 4PM in some places, 3PM in others. If you stray into residential areas, they have street sweeping hours each week. Look for the signs. If it was really easy to park, it might be Street-Cleaning Day! They won’t tow you but it’s now a $95 ticket. Pedestrians have the right of way. If you enter a crosswalk where people are walking you now can get a ticket from $100+! Everybody in your car must wear a seatbelt. ($75 fine). Fine city!
If you have someone who can drive you and drop you off, and pick you up later, that’s great. What do we do? We have now started to take a cab in our own city and leave the cars at home. Yellow Cab is the best cab company, 415-333-3333. There are lots of other cab companies. Avoid Town Taxi (Town Cab). By the time you’ve wasted an hour in your rental car, and then managed to find a garage, it will be $20 to park, so you might as well have taken a cab. Or call where you’re going and find out if they have Valet Parking. Every restaurant below includes a phone number, and we’ve indicated which ones have valet service. Uber or Lyft are great, cheap alternatives to a taxi if you have those apps downloaded on your cellphone.
On the other hand, Deb and I have started a habit of just getting in Deb’s PT Cruiser, and ‘cruising’ around the city. When we see a parking spot, we park there and eat at a local restaurant. Cool way to try new places, but you’d better not be in a hurry or on a schedule.
There are NO freeways that go across the city. They just dump you on city streets and wish you good luck. (This is where that GPS comes in real handy!) We’ve built new entrances and exits to the “new and improved” Bay Bridge, such as “Octavia St.” and also new “beautiful” approaches to the Golden Gate Bridge (Lombard Street). They’ve finished tearing down the “old” Bay Bridge just south of the new one. The 1989 earthquake made part of it fall down. Meanwhile, we’re always tearing up streets to fix our ancient sewers, or put in handicapped ramps, so watch for detours and avoid congested areas.