Sunday metered parking goes into effect this weekend

It’s a new year and that means new ways for the SFMTA to grab revenue from residents and visitors to the city. Their latest brainchild goes into effect this weekend – metered parking on Sundays.

What was once considered a sacred right of San Franciscans – free parking meters on Sundays – will be a thing of the past beginning at noon this Sunday. Starting January 6, all parking meters across the city will be enforced from 12noon until 6pm every Sunday.

Here are a few extra tidbits about the new meter rules to keep in mind:

  • Sunday metered parking is enforced from 12noon until 6pm only.
  • Sunday meters will have 4 hour time limits. But per usual, you cannot “feed” the meter or exceed the four hour time limit.
  • Meters will be programmed for prepayment so you can pay even if you arrive before the meter is in effect. For example, if you arrive at 10 a.m. and need to stay until 2 p.m., you can pay at 10 a.m. for two hours starting at noon when the meter goes into effect. Prepayment can begin at 4:30 a.m. at any SFMTA meter as of January 6, 2013. If the meter is $2 per hour and you put $4 in the meter at 10 a.m., the meter will show payment until 2 p.m. (10 a.m. to 12 p.m. free and $2 each for 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.)
  • Meter rates on Sundays will be the same as those on Saturday
  • Meters that were already enforced on Sundays, such as those at Fisherman’s Wharf (7am – 7pm) and the Port of San Francisco (7am – 11pm), will still maintain their regular, posted hours.

Aside from wanting to make more money for the city (which they don’t really mention in their FAQ, ahem…), the SFMTA says they are enforcing Sunday metered parking to “make sure that motorists can easily find a place to park in commercial areas, which is currently very hard on Sundays.”

Although parking has been free on Sundays since meters were first installed in the 1940s, the SFMTA says that unlike back then, businesses are now open on Sundays, making parking just as tough on Sundays as it is on Saturdays. Hence the need for meters to help increase parking turnover.

If you’re tired of carrying rolls of quarters around or refilling your SFMTA parking card, you might want to check out the PayByPhone app which is available for iPhone, Android or Blackberry. Punch in the meter space number, enter the number of minutes you want, and submit your payment. The app will remind you via text message when you meter is running out and if you haven’t hit the meter limit yet, you can add more parking time from the app (without having to trek back to your car).

Yes, there is a $.45 service fee for every PaybyPhone app transaction but it sure beats a hefty ticket and scrounging for spare change in your glove compartment.

Sarah B.


  1. Thank god! Finally. I can now drive on Sundays without the worry of spending 30 minutes looking for parking. Why in the world did it take the SFMTA so long to implement this?

    I’m not thrilled about the 4 hour time limit though. My guess is that will need to change to two hours to actually get cars flowing and spaces opened up.

  2. Enforcement begins January 27th – no tickets will issued until then.

    Will this plan be effective enough to eliminate people circling /double-parking while looking for a space on Clement near 8th Ave? We’ll see. (But the real answer is no.)

    We had free parking on all day on Sundays because it’s the Lord’s Day. We’ll have free parking on Sunday mornings only soon because … it’s the Lord’s Day. I guess that’s progress.

  3. Jim, we had free parking on Sundays because most stores were closed because “it’s the Lord’s Day.” But thankfully those “blue laws” aren’t really practiced anymore so time for parking management to catch up with the times. Stores are open and need parking turn over.

  4. lol at the above comments. this will not help businesses, it will rather be one more point of anger that makes people decide not to shop in SF

  5. As someone who lives in the Richmond District without a parking spot in my building this absolutely sucks! There is NOT enough parking in this sity as is and the city needs to find a way for people living in a residential/commercial area to co exist with tourists. Charging for parking on Sunday isn’t one of them.

  6. Why do car owners get punished for owning them. We are seen as one step up from smokers. I’m a super active person but try doing all of your errands on a bike. I’ll just convert my garage to an apartment, move out of the city, and leave the parking hassles to the new tenants and enjoy this nice run of increase in rentals. Thank you MTA and slow pedestrians!

  7. The irony is that this rule is imposed by the SFMTA. If San Francisco and the Bay Area region had an innovative, progressive, and *functional* mass transit system that was easily accessible at all hours; that transported people where they want to go *when* they want to go; and, was *affordable* – we wouldn’t need to rely on cars.

    Instead, we pay a king’s ransom for hunks of metal that are marketed as “cool” to drive, in spite of the fact that they destroy the environment; cost a small fortune to operate; and so on.

    San Francisco is a small city; we *could* have had really efficient mass transport years ago – and for that matter, so could the Bay Area region. Instead we have a patchwork quilt of poorly planned and disconnected systems that don’t properly feed into each other.

    When someone suggests building housing near mass transit, or suggests something like high speed rail, some people whine (here, Archie Bunker comes to mind) that “it isn’t going to get people out of their caas (sic). You know what; the sheeple are right! Why are they right? Because we – all of us – have been asleep at the wheel when it comes to compelling policy makers to innovate and create *whole, functional, easily accessible, and extremely well-coordinated* regional and intra-urban transport systems that make people WANT to use them.

    Instead, we get parking meters, car insurance, high gas prices, outrageous fines for parking 2 minutes over a limit, endless interruptions in one’s day to ‘feed the meter” (which is also becoming outlawed), smog; annual car inspections; greed-ball gas prices, and so on.

    Sunday meters? So what’s new. American citizens need to wake up and smell the coffee. We’ve been getting dinged to death by public agencies that are populated by policy makers and bureaucrats who see their respective constituencies as free sources of money. And *that’s OUR fault*!!

    As far as “the Lord’s Day” goes – I’m not a religious person, but there is something to be said for closing down businesses for one day a week. There are many parts of the world where this still happens. It’s the height of human absurdity that the health of our city, and our society, is measured by “retail sales”, or “sales tax revenues”. What a pathetic downward social spiral American culture is on.

    Sunday meters? If you don’t like it, don’t shop on Sunday! Take a day off from consuming. As for those who live in the Richmond (or anywhere else) and find this frustrating, I feel for you. We shouldn’t have to rely on cars, period. There ARE alternatives, but Americans have been traveling the “sheeple highway” for years, and it’s almost too late.

    Next? Increased rates on meters; extended Sunday meter hours (before noon, and after six); increased parking fines. As all that happens, will any group of policy makers, region-wide, get off their fat duffs and lobby for a world-class mass transport system? Of course not. All that’s left? Rants, like this one. (I’m still going to write SFMTA, for what little good it will probably do).

  8. LOL at some of the other comments. I’m a car driver and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this. Now I’ll finally be able to use my car on a Sunday, rather than having every parking spot taken by someone who swings into spots in front of stores and restaurants on Saturday nights and then just lets is SIT there all day on Sunday. Incredibly selfish. If you want to leave your car parked rather than, you know, driving it places, buy or rent a parking spot!

    IMO this is the transit fascists worst nightmare, as it will make driving even more convenient.

  9. @cindy – Well yes and no. SFMTA does not condone it, meaning it’s not technically legal to double park in front of a church, but they look the other way and leave it up the community to sort out amongst themselves. Some reporting on the issue here: http://sfappeal.com/news/2010/06/does-sf-allow-illegal-church-parking.php

    But based on the new Sunday meter enforcement, any car parked in a meter outside a church will be required to pay. But they’ll be able to purchase up to four hours or parking.

    Sarah B.

  10. I wouldn’t mind this so much if the streets were like slate on a billiards table. But they aren’t. Instead, this money will be used to fund more speed bumps, more bike lanes and more MTA bureaucratic salaries. All while the streets crumble. Rob Peter to pay Paul, playing the fiddle while Rome burns. After all the gas taxes, vehicle reg (another tax), additional vehicle reg decreed by the City (another tax), tolls (another tax), parking tickets (another tax) and meters (another tax), all we get in return is potholes and more bond measures to “save” our streets. Whatever happened to quid pro quo?

    Hey, I’d love to live in this mystical utopia where everyone takes public transit and where everything works as it should. But I don’t and enough is enough. Amend the charter and fire everyone at the MTA AND Muni. It’s time to clean house. In fact, eliminate the MTA entirely. The worst thing they ever did was to connect parking with Muni. Bring back the SFPD trike meter maids.

  11. ^Don’t care about what the money is used for (light it on fire for all I care) – I just care about parking turnover so that folks needing to can find a space to park, rather than just a few folks hoarding the spots to themselves all day on Sunday, when they’re not even going to use the car for the day.

  12. There would not be the parking problem if all the illegal housing units in people’s garages were removed and the garages returned to parking spaces. I do not drive, can’t due to permanent vision damage resulting from being run over while on the sidewalk, but partner never parks on street. I have many neighbors who believe that garage is for overnight use only and put cars on street at the crack of dawn, only to move them back into garage at night without driving anywhere all day.

  13. ^Um, ok.

    I’d still be for charging for parking, simply because that’s a boatload easier to enforce and requires less government intrusion into folks’ lives.

  14. What good is free parking if you can never find a spot? I’d rather pay $1 or $2 and get on with my day. Kudos to the MTA for doing what makes sense. If it helps out our underfunded Muni too…so much the better!

  15. This city has become for the rich. “Free” parking has gone to the dinosaurs. People will not come into the city if they have to pay. How does the four hour parking equal to more parking space? Thanks for the detailed explanation on pre-paying.

  16. ^It equals more spaces available because folks can’t leave their cars in one space all day.

  17. So this change will make those “Disabled Person” parking placards even more desireable.

  18. A well-funded study of urban parking availability some years ago showed that if there is *not enough* parking in commercial zones, commercial activity goes UP. Counter-intuitive, eh? Also,people will not stop coming to San Francisco because parking rates (and fines) go up. SF is a destination, for many reasons and the politicians that WE elect have taken advantage of that. This is OUR fault – not SFMTA, not our politicians. It’s US! Complacency comes home to roost.

    btw, to some posters above, really good mass transit is not a utopian dream – many cities around the world have great mass transit. That we don’t have the same in most American cities of note, is indicative of America’s relative decline. This is neither good, nor bad – it just is. Get used to it.

  19. …..and still, as posts on this blog have so often indicated, many Richmond transplant bemoan the lack of housing and want MORE of it to be built (e.g., turn the space previously occupied by the Alexandria theatre into apts.). So where do you think all the future tenants are supposed to park their cars?

  20. Lots of interesting remarks, but don’t forget that MUNI has an ironclad, outdated bunch of politics that make it impossible to change (or control/track spending properly). THAT has a lot to do with an imperfect public transportation.

  21. @renee – we’ve discussed many times before the fact that the Richmond District is currently shrinking in population, due to severe underbuilding coupled with plummeting household sizes.

    The fact that many of us want more housing does not contradict the fact that most of us want the same amount of parking (no net increase, or very little). I want people on the streets, not more cars. We do that by appropriate development allowances (building more housing without parking) coupled with pricing the current parking appropriately (such as what we’re discussing here). If folks are forced to have a car, they’re probably not the people that should be buying in a place that is restricting the amount of parking built and/or increasing the price. Lots of other places to live.

  22. “If folks are forced to have a car, they’re probably not the people that should be buying in a place that is restricting the amount of parking built and/or increasing the price. Lots of other places to live.”

    I’m with you. Screw the handicapped, the old and people with young children (aka families). And the unskilled who have to commute to their underemployment at the multiple, minimum wage jobs, likely outside the city or across town because there isn’t much retail work in the aves. They can live elsewhere!

    This place should be nothing but people who bought in at the right time/inherited (aka boomers) and 20 somethings on fixies who are subsidized by their parents back east. It ought to be interesting.

  23. @BigHeart – um, handicapped folks can get placards that allow them to park anywhere. I have two young children and a wife, so not sure what you’re talking about there (and I have a car – I didn’t say anything about people not having cars?). But yes, you’re correct that folks commuting elsewhere who must have a car would be better served living somewhere else cheaper with more parking. Luckily for them, they have 99.9999% of the country to pick from.

  24. @Bill, who said: “But yes, you’re correct that folks commuting elsewhere who must have a car would be better served living somewhere else cheaper with more parking. Luckily for them, they have 99.9999% of the country to pick from.”

    This is really a sheer poverty of thinking; and, it’s anti-community. I have lived in cities that became gentrified, over years – and I can tell you that they became pretty damned boring places. San Francisco isn’t there yet, but it’s headed in that direction. A significant % of home sales are going to “investors” and the “newly rich”. Real socioeconomic diversity is dwindling. I love this city, and it will be a long time, if ever, before it becomes on big “Upper East Side”, but much of the city is pointing that way. How can anyone advocate for that?

  25. You think that I’m advocating for less socioeconomic diversity because I’m saying that we shouldn’t prioritize building parking rather than more housing? Bizarre.

    I think that the only way that we can maintain a decent level of socioeconomic diversity is through building MORE housing for all income levels, most of which should be built without dedicated parking – in order to bring down the price of the housing AND create an environment more conducive to actual good transit/walking/biking.

    Folks here are advocating building either NO new housing, or only expensive new housing with excessive and expensive parking included. That is what’s killing socioeconomic diversity in the city.

  26. Bill said: “You think that I’m advocating for less socioeconomic diversity because I’m saying that we shouldn’t prioritize building parking rather than more housing? ”

    Yes, it’s implied in your response, because like so many others who see this as black and white, you assume that mass transit isn’t the answer, and that we have to choose between/among the housing/parking options you mention.

    The point is that mass transit will NOT get people out of their cars unless it’s well-integrated, regionally; affordable; and, accessible in a way that gets a person where s/he wants to go when s/he wants to go there.

    I agree that more affordable housing needs to be built, but is that really going to happen any time soon – especially given the reality of market rates (and the cost of real property to develop)? It’s not.

    San Francisco is boxed into a corner on this problem. What we’re getting are subway lines into Chinatown – like that’s something we really need? The latter play is a big gimmie from the city to developers who are going to use increased access to make Chinatown an expensive housing destination.

    The problem in the Bay Area, and other large metropolitan regions, is that there are way too many municipal and intra-urban authorities that have no mandate to cooperate or even coordinate.

    What’s sad is that there are good models out there (e.g. Amsterdam) that make sense, and wouldn’t be that hard to implement, but going against the car culture of America is hard, in addition to the sheer inefficiencies present in our regional and national transport systems.

  27. I never said that mass transit isn’t the answer, I simply said that limiting parking by no means implies that I want people to give up their cars. Of course we need better mass transit, and that is the long-term answer to supporting a larger population. And of course one of the ways that we get better mass transit is by limiting parking (and thus congestion).

  28. There would not be the parking problem if all the illegal housing units in people’s garages were removed and the garages returned to parking spaces.

    This is certainly true. Eliminate housing and the parking problem is reduced. Eliminating businesses would also help. Doesn’t make it a good idea.

    And the unskilled who have to commute to their underemployment at the multiple, minimum wage jobs, likely outside the city or across town because there isn’t much retail work in the aves. They can live elsewhere!

    This is just baffling. There is a six-unit apartment building without parking on my block, and there are single family homes with garages. Believe me when I say that people with minimum wage jobs aren’t moving into the single family homes, and the rich aren’t moving into the walkup. Yet some people seem to genuinely believe the opposite.

    Private parking is an amenity, and you pay more to have it. If the city requires that every household must have a space, then every household will pay extra. You can argue that it’s a justified cost, but don’t argue that you’re fighting for the poor.

  29. Take a look at Balboa st. from Arguello to about 7th ave. or so. Look how many empty storefronts there are. Now look how many parking meters there are.

    This is what Clement st. could look like….

  30. Looking forward to watching this unfold. I suspect, managing the public parking spaces in our commercial districts on what is just another business day for many folks will lead to increased turnover and better business/more customers. I hope some of our local merchants associations have collected some baseline data for those businesses open on Sundays so that we will have something more than an anecdotal pissing match to keep watching in six months and can rely instead on actual data.

  31. As I parked on Clement on Sunday – I realized that we still have the really, really old fashioned parking meters – they don’t even take the parking card, much less a credit card (so I’m guessing the pay by cell phone option probably doesn’t work in our hood either!). You’d think the SFMTA would have updated these? With the price of parking, you’ll need a 5 pound bag of coins to load up the meters!

  32. Balboa also doesn’t have a residential parking permit program, and it has a lot more garages with curb cuts, and consequentially fewer storefronts.

    If you like ample parking, Balboa’s the place to be. That’s probably why all the activity is on Clement.

  33. About the only “good” thing I can say about the Sunday meter scheme is that they are programmed to be prepaid. What is unclear is why isn’t that prepayment programming available on EVERY DAY?

  34. At first, paid parking on sundays really angered me. There was no warning until it was in affect (or the grace period) We didn’t vote on this, and it seems like another money-grabbing scheme from the city. But after thinking about it, people are right, what good is free parking when the spaces are filled either with cars or the stupid parklets that the hipsters want.

    The only thing the city needs to do is update the parking meters to allow credit cards, or the pay by phone thing.

    …and lower public transportation rates on sundays …and add a trainline to the richmond …and lower housing costs for families …

  35. According to KTVU (on tonight’s news) SFMTA issued nearly 1,800 tickets this past Sunday – the 1st Sunday they were to issue tix ($62/min. fine)

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