Didn’t turn your wheel toward the curb on sloping La Cienega?
Parked at a meter that didn’t have a blinking light?
Parked on a seemingly welcoming, residential street with a sign hidden behind that awe-inspiring oak?
You guessed it…
For fresh arrivals, here’s a quick breakdown on where, how, and when to park in LA (based, tragically, on real experiences):
1. Neighborhood Parking
Whether you’re going to that exclusive pool party in Malibu or just trying to watch a TV series finale with a friend in West Hollywood, parking in residential neighborhoods requires a keen eye and the willingness to walk a few extra blocks. Many places have “permit parking,” which means that if you don’t have the equivalent of a dog collar for your rear-view mirror, you can expect to pay anywhere from $60 for a ticket to $350 in towing fees for parking on an otherwise innocuous street.
While some permitted zones will allow the un-stickered to park for free during the day, others have a 24-hour no-tolerance policy for anyone without appropriate decals. If you have the dubious fortune to start dating someone who lives on such a street, that person usually can furnish you with a “guest pass.” No matter where you go, however, ALWAYS read the signs, and believe them. If you can’t find a sign, park at a meter on a nearby major boulevard to be safe.
2. City Parking
If you live in downtown, you’re going to need to buddy up with a parking structure or lot. Because of its numerous congestion zones, it’s virtually impossible to park on the street without getting towed during the hours of 7am to 9am, and again from 4pm to 7pm. This city takes parking seriously: The meter maids are unafraid to step over the homeless to ticket expired $3.00-per-hour meters on Skid Row. Save yourself both an ethical dilemma and a personal financial crisis by either buying a monthly parking pass or leaving your car at home and taking the Metro line in.
3. Weird, Barren Stretches of Nothingness Parking
Sometimes, you strike the equivalent of parking gold: You find yourself at an unmarked curb trafficked only by tumbleweeds and crumpled up brochures for Scientology. Is it safe to park here? Well, probably not for you personally, but it will be for your car as long as the curb is not red, yellow, white, or blue.
These patches usually occur near art galleries, which is to say former vast swathes of industrial wasteland that have now been aesthetically repurposed. Before you lock up and head in into that warehouse of abstracted hype, make sure there are no signs such as “Demolition Zone” or “NO PARKING AT ANY TIME.”
Oddly, these streets will occasionally have street-sweeping signs, which forbid parking during specific times, such as “No Parking 10am to 2pm Thursdays.” Even if you’re stepping over a gutter full of aluminum cans and desiccated leaves, don’t think that just because they don’t clean it means they’ve stopped ticketing during those times.
4. You Will Get Ticketed Anyway
Learning the ins-and-outs of LA parking can sound nightmarish, but it’s a mild hassle compared to the joys of exploring the city. Angelenos who have lived here for years still mess up occasionally and find themselves weeping over their newly printed parking ticket.
Luckily, the tears always dry 🙂