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An artistic rendition of complex L.A. parking signs
The parking sign hustle in L.A. is real.
(Illustration by Dan Carino for LAist)
LA Explained: Parking Rules
L.A. parking rules are confusing (and enraging). This guide will help.
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Your blood might already be boiling because you saw the words “parking” and “L.A.” in the same headline. We apologize.

But if you're not one of the fortunate ones who can get conveniently where you need to be via Metro, e-scooter, biking or walking, chances are you are rolling around in a cumbersome car and therefore must deal with the misery of parking in Los Angeles. So, while we're all in this stress-spiking, misanthrope-making, anxiety-filled purgatory together, perhaps we should try to make things marginally more bearable by equipping ourselves with some shared knowledge and principles.

That’s what the guide below is for.

When figuring out what to include, we decided you've probably at least glanced at the California DMV handbook — aka the thing you were required to read before getting your license — and already know not to park in the red, to stay within 18 inches from the curb, to turn your wheels on hills, all of that.

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But there are some, well, how do we say this politely, less clearly communicated rules and procedures for parking in L.A. that we've accumulated through parking tickets, fist-shaking andhearing about all your personal gripes. We hope you can learn from our mistakes research efforts, and save yourself a little grief.

(And if you’re wondering why our parking situation is the way it is, we have an explainer for that, too.)

Parking Etiquette Exists

For better or worse, we all have direct control over our own behavior when it comes to parking in L.A. We won't immediately assume that you, dear reader, are committing any egregious faux pas in your vehicle. Instead, we'll just say that we encourage everyone, model parking citizens or not, to pass along these guidelines for our collective benefit:

1. Maximize parking space for everyone.

There's a reason thoserogue parking signs in Angelino Heights were necessary. If you see an abundance of space on a street, park flush against the end of the curb. If other cars are already there, park two to three feet away from them so that they can get out but you don't unjustly take up space another car can use. (We’ll leave this here without further comment.)

A car parks far away from the red paint on a curb and the word "No!" pops up. A car parks right next to the end of the red paint on a curb and the word "Yes!" pops up.
Car etiquette rule No. 1: Maximize parking
(Brianna Lee/LAist)

2. Park inside the lines.

Painted lines are there to create order in a world full of chaos. Respect them. If one car tramples over its designated boundary, it entices others to do the same. Don't let your parking lot fall victim to this tragic domino effect.

 One car is parked neatly inside two lines. The words "Good Job" appear above it. The other car is parked haphazardly across one of the lines. The word "Shame!" appears above it.
Car etiquette rule No. 2: Park inside the lines
(Brianna Lee/LAist)

3. Don't squeeze into a spot where you can't actually fit.

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Sure, your SUV might technically fit in a compact spot. But deep down, you know it doesn't really belong there. You know.

A large car tries to park next to a row of small cars. The small cars say "You can't sit with us." The big car says "Oh o.k."
Car etiquette rule No. 3: Don't squeeze into a spot where you can't actually fit
(Brianna Lee/LAist)

4. Be kind to cyclists.

Bicycles might annoy drivers, but the way cars behave is much more consequential — and potentially lethal — for the people riding the bikes. So a few refreshers: Don't park in bike lanes. It could force cyclists to veer into the street and in front of dangerous traffic. And watch for bikes, oncoming or from behind, anytime you're getting out of your car. Getting doored is no joke.

A car is in the green lane on the right of the road. Words pop up that say "This is a bike lane. You can't park here." The car leaves the green lane and says "'K bye."
Car etiquette rule No. 4: Be kind to cyclists
(Brianna Lee/LAist)

5. Don't misuse the disabled person placards.

We wish we didn't have to remind people to be decent human beings, but those placards are meant for people who actually need a parking space for a disability, not as a personal free parking pass for the morally bankrupt. (That said, for those of you looking to confront someone you think is using one of these placards in a less-than-legit way, remember thatnot all disabilities are visible.)

6. Don't be an EV hog.

Have an electric car? What a great person you are. Hogging an EV charging space for more time than necessary? You might've just gotten docked a few points. Be kind and let others have their turn.

7. Tip your valet.

Yes, tipping is customary. How much is a bit of a fuzzier question — we recommend somewhere around 15-20%. Bonus move: Tip when you're dropping off the car, especially if you've got a really nice one.

Curb Your Parking Anxiety

OK, here’s the scenario: you have plans to go somewhere you've never driven before. Feel that shroud of dread suddenly encircling you? We can help. Here are a few productive coping mechanisms:

  • Consider all alternative transportation options.

    Before committing to driving yourself, think about Metro, parking at a Metro station and riding in, rideshare services, e-scooters, biking, and walking. All of these require some careful scale-balancing of time vs. money that will vary depending on your circumstances, but it's always worth remembering that you do, often, have options.

  • Scope out the parking situation before you leave.

    Google Map the parking garages. Yelp your spot and search "parking" among the reviews. Check to see if there's a city lot near where you're going. Ask a friend how parking is in that area. Sometimes it turns out that you'll have to circle around to find street parking or pony up an exorbitant amount of cash for a garage or valet — but at least you'll have an idea of your options ahead of time. There are some newfangled apps out there like Polis Assist, SpotHero, Parkopedia and EV-specific ones like Chargepoint and Greenlots that can arm you with information before you go. If you're using Waze or Google Maps, just direct it straight to a garage if you need to.

  • Rank your rage.

    Many things about parking make us mad, but what makes you the MOST mad? Is it having to shell out $10 for 2-hour parking, walking a mile from parking spot to destination, checking the time constantly to see how many minutes are left on the meter, or circling the block for the 18th time in hopes that a magical free spot will open up? You might have to end up compromising one or more of your principles while parking, but if you can at least avoid your top rage trigger you can find some peace in a small victory.

  • Keep small bills and change in your car.

    Even though it's 2019, there are a lot of valets and meters out there that don't take cards, for some reason.

  • Breathe.

    That's the only advice we have for when you encounter a bait-and-switch parking price sign, or a kaleidoscope of signage that makes no sense.

  • Just don’t go anywhere.

    I mean, it works for me.

 A group of traffic cones are clustered together. Many have "no parking" signs taped to them.
( Christi Nielsen/Flickr Creative Commons)

Complain To The Right People

Sometimes you gotta get the authorities involved. Make sure they're the right ones.

Generally, each individual city handles parking tickets within those city limits, through its transportation department and/or local police department. (Pro tip: Always keep tabs on what city you're parked in.)

The L.A. Department of Transportation at large handles parking restrictions and street parking rules within the city of L.A.

The Parking Violations Bureau, which is part of LADOT, handles tickets and disputes.

LAPD sometimes handles citations and towing as well, but only in certain situations (e.g., if it's a moving violation, or if there is a crime involved).

L.A. County's Parking Violations Bureau can also issue parking citations in unincorporated areas of the county. The county'sDepartment of Beaches and Harbors also manages 19 parking lots along the county coastline, and another 15 in Marina del Rey.

Metro handles parking issues at Metro stations.

If you're within L.A. city, here's a cheat sheet on whom to call if you run into any of these very common parking issues. And, when in doubt, your easiest bet is to dial 311:

  • Report handicap placard abuse: LADOT's parking enforcement line (213) 485-4184. (If you suspect somebody got their placard fraudulently, you can also report it to LAPD at (877) ASK-LAPD or fill out a report with the DMV.)
  • Report a blocked driveway: LADOT's dispatch team (818) 374-4823
  • Report potentially shady valet activities (e.g., if you suspect a valet company is illegally blocking off public parking spaces): LAPD's valet complaint hotline (323) 929-2568.
  • Report illegal curb activity (e.g., if someone illegally paints a curb a different color or puts up a fake parking restriction on an available curb): LADOT's parking enforcement line (213) 485-4184
  • Check if a parking sign is legitimate: LADOT's parking enforcement line (213) 485-4184
  • Contest a parking ticket: Request a review at LADOT's website or call their customer line at (866) 561-9742
  • Check if your car has been towed: Search for your car on this database ofL.A. police garages. You can also call LADOT's parking enforcement line at (213) 485-4184.
  • Report an abandoned car: LADOT's line for abandoned cars, (800) ABANDON
  • Request a new parking restriction or change in parking signs: Get in touch with your city councilmember. (Look them up here.)
Extremely confusing parking signs stacked on top of one another
So I'm good, right?
(Jorge Gonzalez/Flickr Creative Commons)

Some Lesser-Known Rules

Even the most battle-hardened Angeleno might be blissfully unaware of some L.A. parking laws until a ticket gets slapped on the windshield — or until someone lets a personal pro tip slip. We’ll save you the time and expletives and just tell you a few common ones:

72-hour rule:

In the city of L.A., you don't have the license to park in a public spot forever. You have a maximum of 72 hours before your car can get towed. It doesn't matter if you're in a residential street with no signage for miles — 72 hours is all you have.

The street sweeping guardians have no mercy:

Street sweepers came and left? Street sweepers don't even show up? Doesn't matter. In L.A. city, if you're parked in a street sweeping spot during designated "no parking" hours, you're still eligible to get a ticket.

Overnight parking:

It’s technically allowed in the city of L.A. But in several other cities, including Pasadena, Alhambra, Beverly Hills and Culver City, overnight parking is not allowed unless you have a permit.

Living in your car:

Even though parking overnight is OK in L.A. city, living (and sleeping overnight) in your car generally is not. That’s thanks to a temporary ban on vehicle dwelling the City Council passed in 2017 andextended in 2018. The rule primarily applies to residential neighborhoods and spaces near schools and parks, though the council has been adding more commercial streets to the ban. For homeless people living in their cars, there are a handful of"safe parking" spots across the city — though not nearly enough to keep up with the number of people who need them.

Red zones:

It's not enough just to have your wheel out of the red zone — no part of the car is allowed to be in the red, according to LADOT.

Broken meters:

Parking at a broken meter does indeed mean free parking, but here's the catch: the meter is only considered broken if both coin and credit card options are unusable, according to LADOT policy. So if the credit card part of the machine is broken, but the meter still accepts coins, you're still on the hook to pay — and vice versa.

Colored curbs:

Most people’s instinct is to stay away from parking at colored curbs unless you’re stopping for a very short period of time. But in several cities many of these curbs are only enforced during certain hours of the day — meaning those spaces turn into legit parking spots after hours. (And before some of you roast us for spilling your parking secrets, let us remind you we’re in the business of democratizing information — and anyway, it’s already been spilt.)

  • Yellow curbs: These curbs are for commercial and passenger loading, but several cities only enforce it during the day. Here's a list of select cities and their yellow curb enforcement hours — again, you're free to park there only outside these hours, and only unless other restrictions apply:
  • Green curbs: Generally for limited-time parking, but again, several cities only enforce it during the day:
    • Los Angeles: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
    • Pasadena: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m, Monday through Saturday
    • Burbank: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week
    • Glendale: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
    • Monterey Park: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
    • West Hollywood: Does not actually have green curbs
    • Beverly Hills: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
    • Culver City: 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
    • Inglewood: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
    • Santa Monica: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
    • Long Beach: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
    • Torrance: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
    • Hawthorne: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week
    • Redondo Beach: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week
    • Hermosa Beach: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • White curbs: These curbs for passenger loading are more often enforced 24/7, but there are a few cities that don't, effectively opening up these spots for parking in the evening (except in front of hotels or mailboxes, or in front of a theater while the theater is still open). Here are enforcement hours:
    • Los Angeles: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
    • Pasadena: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
    • Burbank: 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week
    • Glendale: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
    • Monterey Park: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
    • West Hollywood: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
    • Beverly Hills: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
    • Culver City: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
    • Inglewood: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m, Monday through Saturday
    • Santa Monica: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
    • Long Beach: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
    • Hawthorne: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., seven days a week
    • Torrance: 7 a.m. to 6 pm., Monday through Saturday
    • Redondo Beach: 24 hours a day, seven days a week
    • Hermosa Beach: 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday
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