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Parking Guidelines


How can I make sure I park legally?



We want to make the city more livable for everyone. We do not want our App to encourage bad behavior that makes life difficult or frustrating to parking space owners, pedestrians, neighbors, the handicapped, etc. Make sure that you always park safely, legally and considerately. If the city gets no complaints, they will have no grounds to interfere with Park Circa. If you always vacate the parking space on time, the parking space owner will enjoy sharing their space and everyone wins. So Don't be selfish, just to save a couple minutes, that's not cool. Be a good neighbor to everyone.


The following information is true to the best of our knowledge but does not constitute legal advice. We recommend you contact your local Department of Transportation for exact clarification of the law. Never assume that just because a parking space was listed that it is legal or that it is legal for your specific sized vehicle (in this case, size matters).

San Francisco Parking Guidelines

Visit the SFMTA for official information about parking, specifically San Francisco Transportation Code Division I and Division II


Internal Private Driveway

Sample Private Space: Legal

If the parking space is fully private, like the one pictured above, there should be no problems. Some properties have parking in the back, accessible via an alley or drive through, or like this property pictured, simply inset under the building but still publicly accessible without special remotes or keys.


External Private Driveway (Not Blocking Sidewalk)

Sample Driveway: Legal

It is legal to park in a private driveway if it is large enough so that you do not infringe upon any portion of the public sidewalk.

SFMTA says, "Do not park on sidewalks. A vehicle parked on any portion of a sidewalk can be cited for a sidewalk violation. A sidewalk citation can be given even if the pedestrian travel path is partly clear or if the vehicle is parked across a driveway. Sidewalks are the area between the curb and the building property line. Motorcycles are not exempt from sidewalk parking regulations. Bicycles can be parked on the sidewalk but their owners must ensure that the pedestrian path is safe and clear."

They key to legal driveway parking is understanding where the sidewalk ends and the driveway begins. This "public setback" is defined for each specific block. DPT has informed us that they determine what this public setback is by looking down the entire block and noting the furthest permanent projection of private property on the block, e.g. stairs, permanent landscaping, lions, etc. This line is then drawn for the entire block, and that defines the public setback. If your vehicle infringes over this line, you may get a ticket.

If you have questions, just ask the local DPT, they are very happy to help.

We will try to find ways to get Parking Owners to validate the legal private driveway size (and we will track complaints on individual spaces and ban spaces or adjust the max size on spaces that are problematic). But until then, use your best judgment. A good rule of thumb is to leave at least 6 feet (about 3 sidewalk squares) as a sufficient pedestrian walkway, and always scope the block for the invisible public setback line.


On-Street Blocking the Driveway

Sample Street Blocking Driveway: Questionable

This area is technically known as the "curbcut" and while the street is public property, the owner has exclusive access to the right-of-way of their driveway. People who share this space are not sharing the public space, but instead they are sharing the right-of-way and may ask to be reimbursed for the inconvenience of not having access to their right-of-way. Increased sharing of curbcuts is actually good for the city and good for the neighborhood, because currently this public space is off limits to the public. But by allowing owners to share this space, it can greatly increase the number of available parking spaces in a neighborhood, which means that a car parked here frees up additional street parking elsewhere for others.

It's important that owners and drivers understand the legal facts about this space. California Vehicle Code Section 490 states, "'Private road or driveway' is a way or place in private ownership and used for vehicular travel by the owner and those having express or implied permission from the owner but not by other members of the public." Each city may have individual laws about this. In San Francisco, blocking a driveway is legal in some situations, if you have the permission from the Resident, and you comply with any and all applicable street sign restrictions (hourly limits, street cleaning, neighborhood permits, etc) [Source: SFDPT, via SF Appeal].

San Francisco Municipal Code SEC 57. The owner or lessee of property shall be permitted to park the owner's or lessee's vehicle across the private driveway of said property, provided that such vehicle displays a valid license plate registered under said property with the Department of Motor Vehicles and provided that such driveway serves no more than two family dwelling units. This Section does not permit the parking of vehicles across sidewalks or red zones.

SFMTA says, "Residents can block their own driveways only if the building the driveway serves has two or one units and the vehicle’s license plate is registered to the building’s address. All other types of driveway parking can be cited."

This law specifies "residents" right to park in the driveway so that DPT has the legal right to ticket a non-resident IF THE RESIDENT COMPLAINS. DPT has informed us that they will not ticket a car if the resident has not complained (which they are forbidden to do by Park Circa Terms of Service, if they list their space with us). But this of course means that all residents with rights over that driveway, must agree. If the driveway serves a garage with tandem parking, or there are multiple units and someone in another unit complains, DPT will issue a ticket. So the Owner needs to make sure that they do due diligence with all parties before they list a space.

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