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Parking in Santa Monica

Read ALL the signs when parking in Santa Monica to avoid being ticketed or towed.

Santa Monica is beautiful.  But, it’s easy to wind up with a ticket or getting your car towed away if you park in the wrong place at the wrong time.

I usually have good ‘parking karma,’  but I’ve been ticketed more than once in Santa Monica and have even had my car towed (I missed the tiny ‘valet zone’ sign on the parking meter).  Don’t ruin your visit with a parking mishap.  Here are some tips for safely parking in Santa Monica:

Read ALL the signs: They will alert you to street sweeping times and whether a parking permit sticker is required.  Residential parking permit stickers are required in many neighborhoods, and the signs will list the times when a permit is required.

Related: Santa Monica Daycations

You even need to read the signs when parking in a metered spot. Pay close attention for the ‘bus zone’ and “Valet Zone” signs, these are sometimes hard to see and only in effect when a nearby restaurant is offering valet parking.

Feed the meter generously:  Parking enforcement officers seem to have a knack for finding expired meters as soon as they expire.  Spend the extra few cents to cover your car for the entire time you think you will using the spot.

Also See: Malibu Drive

If you ARE towed in Santa Monica, your vehicle supposed to be taken to a yard IN Santa Monica which is open 24 hours.  In my experience, this doesn’t always happen.  My car was taken by a rogue towing company located in a dark,  dangerous area outside of the city.  I wound up waiting 90 minutes on a dark street waiting for the driver who promised to be there ‘any minute.’


There are public parking lots near the pier around the Third Street Promenade which offer two hours of free parking.  Parking in beach lots will be more expensive, but it can be worth the extra money to pay to park in a lot to avoid headaches.   If you do wind up getting ticketed or towed, click this link for helpful tips.

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