What are the Rules on Parking in California?

Parking in California is serious business

Most parking laws are specific to each city. See our Guide to Parking in the Los Angeles area and our Guide to Parking in the San Francisco area. Here are those that apply throughout California.

Most of these rules apply to public streets, not private property, unless otherwise specified.

These general rules apply unless there are more specific restrictions, as would generally be indicated by (official) signs. So be sure to READ ALL SIGNS!

Also, we would bet there are some important driving laws you don’t know about so be sure to check out our Guide to Laws for Drivers in California.

If there are no signs about a particular parking restriction, does that mean it doesn’t apply?

In California, you are generally subject to all parking laws (as well as all general laws), whether there is a sign or not. One exception is parking restrictions related to street sweeping, which must be posted on signs at least at the entrance of each block, otherwise the restrictions are not effective.1Vehicle Code Sec 22507.6

But before towing you, you must be given notice, which is usually done by signs or by leaving a citation & warning on your car.2Vehicle Code 22651(n): “Whenever a vehicle is parked or left standing where local authorities, by resolution or ordinance, have prohibited parking and have authorized the removal of vehicles. Except as provided in subdivisions (v) and (w), a vehicle shall not be removed unless signs are posted giving notice of the removal.”

What are the general restrictions on parking?

Throughout California, you may NOT park:3Vehicle Code Sec 22500

  • within 20 feet of a crosswalk, or 15 feet where a curb extension is present4AB 413
  • within 15 feet of a fire station driveway or fire hydrant
  • on the street, blocking a public or private driveway
  • on a sidewalk5Vehicle Code 22500(f)
  • on a bridge (unless specifically allowed)
  • in a tunnel
  • more than 18 inches (1 and a half feet) from the curb when parallel parking6Vehicle Code Sec 22502
  • on a lowered section of curb for wheelchair accessibility
  • on private property without the owner’s permission7general California property law
  • on the wrong side of the street, meaning, the opposite way of the flow of traffic

What is daylighting? How far from a crosswalk do I need to park?

Daylighting means leaving a clear line of sight at an intersection for all modes of transportation – pedestrians, drivers, cyclists, and others. California law prohibits parking within 20 feet of a crosswalk – whether marked or unmarked, or within 15 feet where a curb extension is present. This helps prevent a parked vehicle from obscuring the view of motorists and others who are approaching a crosswalk.8AB 413

How far (how many feet) from a driveway do I need to park?

The width of a driveway technically spans from the “curb cuts,” which is at the top of where the concrete slopes up and there is usually a cut or gap between the slope and the rest of the curb. If there is no curb cut, the driveway would span from where these curb cuts would be, that is, the top of the slopes on either side. If you are in this “curb cut” area, then you would be technically be blocking the driveway, even if you are not directly blocking the driveway. So you must not be in this curb cut area at all.

What do all the color curbs mean?

Yellow curb: commercial loading up to 30 min9must have commercial license plate, general passenger loading up to 5 min.

Green curb: short term parking for either 15 or 30 min, as noted by signs.

Blue curb: ONLY if you are the valid holder of a disabled placard, or are driving the holder10Vehicle Code 22511.7

White curb: ONLY for 5 min passenger loading, 24/7.

Red curb: No stopping or parking at any time (unless sign indicates otherwise)11Vehicle Code Sec 22500


Are parking restrictions enforced on holidays?

Many parking restrictions are NOT enforced on holidays. Check with your local government.


Am I allowed to park at a broken meter?

Yes. In the state of California, no city can ticket you for parking at a broken meter. But if there are time restrictions, you must follow these.12CA Veh. Code Sec. 22508.5

If I have a disabled placard, am I exempt from parking restrictions?

Yes, in California you are exempt from some of them, including:13California Vehicle Code Section 22511.5; also see LADOT “Parking Signs”

  • Parking district permit requirements
  • time limits
  • meters – you don’t have to pay

You are NOT exempt from:

  • parking rules for red, white, and yellow curbs
  • “No stopping” zones
  • “No parking” zones
  • Street sweeping

See more on disabled placard parking at our Person with Disability page.

Exercise Your Rights

See options for Getting Legal Help in California.

How do I get a disabled placard? See DMV website.

Author

  • Tristan Blaine

    Tristan Blaine is the founder of Law Soup Media, and has been a licensed attorney since 2013.

    About Tristan

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