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How is free roadside parking in San Francisco?

J W
Vancouver, Canada
2 posts
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How is free roadside parking in San Francisco?

I am planning to visit a friend who lives in Palo Alto Nov 17-24 and will be staying at his place for the duration. I am planning to also head into SF on most of those days and am debating over taking the Caltrain Vs renting a car and driving in (my friend does not have a car). The Caltrain appears to cost $14 / day for a total of $98 if I were to go every day. I can also rent a car for the duration of my stay for $140 total (pickup and dropoff at SFO). I am also probably going to get a SF CityPass which includes a 7 day Muni pass.

Two options:

a) take Caltrain from Palo Alto into SF and ride muni

b) drive from Palo Alto into SF and park where there is free parking and ride muni to wherever I need to go if necessary

I like the driving option b/c it allows for flexibility in timing and I can potentially drive right up to certain places (if parking is free). It also allows me to easily visit places (perhaps even not within SF core, like areas surrounding Palo Alto), that are harder to access via transit. The car also provides storage of purchases while in SF. My friend may also join me in SF on a couple of the days so the car is nice as we both save on Caltrain fees.

So the question is how is SF in terms of free roadside parking? If it exists, are there usually ample spaces? Any good examples if any? Ideally, I'd like to drive as close as possible into SF such that I can park somewhere for free for the day and access the Muni easily from wherever I park. I am willing to pay a bit extra for a car rental due to it being much more flexible and convenient, but if finding somewhere to park for the day for free that is within easy reach of the Muni is a huge problem, then that convenience goes out the window.

Oh and I guess free parking may not be absolutely necessary, but unless parking for the day ends up < $5 or so, it will get to the point where I'd rather just go with the Caltrain option.

Thx

Dublin, California
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1. Re: How is free roadside parking in San Francisco?

Free and parking are two mutually exclusive terms for SF. There are some spread across the city,but they are far and few in between.

Vancouver, Canada
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2. Re: How is free roadside parking in San Francisco?

FREE PARKING...SAN FRANCISCO!!! You have to be kidding...it does not exist. It is WAY more expensive to park in SF than it is in Vancouver by almost double. Less than 5$ will get you 1 hours parking...

Transit is the way to go...

San Francisco
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3. Re: How is free roadside parking in San Francisco?

In the downtown area there is very little free parking. And what little there may is limited to 2 hours. A ticket for overstaying is $60.

The daily rate at the 5th & Mission garage, which has easy on/off to the freeway, would be about $30 for all day. http://www.fifthandmission.com/prices.htm

J W
Vancouver, Canada
2 posts
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4. Re: How is free roadside parking in San Francisco?

Is it really bad even in the residential areas outside of the SF core? I was initially thinking areas like the Sunset Disctrict, Merced Heights, Sunnydale, etc. I don't mind parking further as long as there is still fairly easy access to the muni.

San Francisco...
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5. Re: How is free roadside parking in San Francisco?

You can park in the residential neighborhoods but you need to pay attention to the parking restriction signs. Some neighborhoods have permit parking where non residents are limited to 2-4 hours. Also pay attention to street cleaning times

The outer Sunset district (west of 19th ave) generally has ample street parking without permit parking. You can get to downtown on the N Judah or L Taraval MUNI light rail lines. However consider that it's about a 30-40 minute ride and would kind of defeat the purpose of having the car

ps- I would avoid parking in the Sunnydale neighborhood

Edited: 04 November 2012, 15:28
San Francisco...
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6. Re: How is free roadside parking in San Francisco?

There is an advantage to having a car in Palo Alto so that you can see the Bay Area and cover some parts of SF that are easier done by car. You can park in Golden Gate Park and further West near the Landsend trail to see that part of town. There is parking on either side of the GG Bridge.

To see the FW, Embarcadero and Union Square area, if you want to get up and get into town bright and early before 9am you can find early bird parking until 7pm in a few places It is Never free.

Another option is to drive to a BART station (www.bart.gov) and take BART in and yes you wil have to pay for a BART ticket but that may be cheaper than the early bird parking.

sf
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7. Re: How is free roadside parking in San Francisco?

If you opt for the rental car, just drive up to Millbrae from PA, and park in the BART lot for $2.00/day then pay the BART ticket into SF. Or just do CALTRAIN.

Parking in Sunnydale will get you mugged, and Merced Hgts is a just a bit better, if you insist on looking for free street parking look in the Ingleside and Glen Park neighborhoods near the BART stations, just watch out for the signs for area stickers and tow zones.

San Francisco...
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8. Re: How is free roadside parking in San Francisco?

I see people who drive and park in my neighborhood to take Muni frequently (37th Ave and Taraval just off Sunset). They hop off Muni and walk half a block and hop in a car when I'm coming home. I suspect they are mostly people who live in the Sunset District and are just too lazy or late to walk 4 or 5 blocks to the streetcar line in the morning, though. Parking is free around here except street cleaning times.

However it's about a 35 minute ride to downtown on Muni plus a wait for a train. With driving from Palo Alto plus a long Muni ride, I wouldn't particularly like this option, even though it is free parking and free Muni ride (with your pass). Sometimes it's worth paying something to save a little time.

Bloomington, Indiana
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9. Re: How is free roadside parking in San Francisco?

I'm going to vote for Caltrain/MUNI rather than car rental for the following reasons (and there are others too):

1. As you can tell "free parking" (or even cheap parking) isn't to be found in most of the areas that tourists want to visit (GG Park things being the primary exception).

2. If you decide to go with parking in an area where you can park for free: a) you'll spend an hour or so each day "commuting" from your parking spot to the things you'll likely want to do (again, GG Park things being an exception); and b) there is always the chance you'll miss the street cleaning or some other parking restriction and get a ticket/be towed, etc. In addition to being a headache, this can get real expensive.

3. You'll have a less stressful (and quicker?) commute from Palo Alto to the city via Caltrain as compared to driving. Similarly, you won't have to deal with driving in a strange city with lots of hills, one-way streets, traffic, etc.

4. Caltrain appears to be cheaper from the get-go, even without including anything you might pay for parking. Also, it doesn't appear that you've included the cost of gas in your calculations. In rough terms you're talking about a 70 mile/day roundtrip. Let's say the rental gets ~23 MPG (might be better/worse, but it makes the gallons/day a nice round number), this would be 3 gallons/day. To use a nice round $4/gallon number (again might be more or less), you'll be spending another $12/day x 7 days or a total of around $85 on gas. (And, this is *just* the commute distance, will be more due to driving around the city.) I don't think it would be a stretch to say could spend $100 on gas during your 7 days.

All this said, depending on what you're wanting to do, you could rent a car for a single day and use it that day to see the things where having a car will make it easier (and those where parking is less of a pain/expense). Perhaps GG Park, GG Bridge, Twin Peaks, Muir Woods, etc. and/or to get things that are spread out and/or don't have good MUNI connections.

Anyway, that's my $.02,

hlo

Edited: 05 November 2012, 15:58
San Francisco CA
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10. Re: How is free roadside parking in San Francisco?

Plenty of local suburban residents drive into the City, park for free in the neighborhoods, and take MUNI or BART downtown. As Sean said, observe the restrictions posted. I live in Sunnyside where most blocks are not resident restricted, and there are very easy bus connections to MUNI metro or BART.