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The Most Expensive U.S. Cities to Park In

October 11, 2010

Parking in San Francisco is nothing short of a nightmare. I actually live in one of the easiest areas to park in—Twin Peaks—where there is no monthly fee/sticker for parking, but I often find myself circling the streets, searching for the elusive perfect spot. Don’t get me started on the Financial District, the Powell Street area, or the Castro—it’s more likely I would find a four-leaf clover springing up through a crack in the sidewalk than a meter anywhere near my destination. And if I did happen to find a meter, I have about 6.5 seconds to do my business before the meter expires and I get slapped with a huge fine.

Think I am exaggerating? I’m not.

The San Francisco-based Municipal Transportation Agency just released a report examining the most expensive parking rates in the country. Looking to expand its number of metered curbside spaces by 1340, city Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier, who requested the report, first wanted to compare San Francisco to thirteen other cities—Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Oakland, Philadelphia, Portland, OR, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle, and Washington, DC. Here are some of the major findings.

Most expensive downtown meters

While the median meter rate for cities was $1.25 an hour, Chicago has the most expensive downtown rate at $4.25 an hour. Los Angeles and San Francisco came in second and third, respectively. In San Francisco, I could pay anywhere from $2 to $3.50 an hour to park at a meter. That’s the equivalent of buying a latte each hour.

Highest meter violation fines
Don’t let your meter expire in New York City or San Francisco, where the fines are the highest in the nation. In San Francisco, the fine for parking at an expired meter is $55 in a residential commercial zone, and $65 downtown. When the fiscal year ended on June 30, parking meter fines had brought in $29 million in revenue for the city of San Francisco. The fine for expired meter parking in downtown New York City is also $65. The lowest fine on the list was $20 in New Orleans.

According to reports done by Business Week and Colliers International, these cities ranked the highest, meaning the most expensive, when it comes to daily and monthly parking.

New York
Median rate for unreserved monthly parking: $550 (downtown)
Median rate for daily parking: $32 (downtown)
Midtown prices: $574.12 for monthly; $40 for daily

Boston
Median rate for unreserved monthly parking: $420
Median rate for daily parking: $32

San Francisco
Median rate for unreserved monthly parking: $335
Median rate for daily parking: $24

Chicago
Median rate for unreserved monthly parking: $332
Median rate for daily parking: $25

Philadelphia
Median rate for unreserved monthly parking: $325
Median rate for daily parking: $22

Seattle
Median rate for unreserved monthly parking: $250
Median rate for daily parking: $24

Pittsburgh
Median rate for unreserved monthly parking: $247.10
Median rate for daily parking: $14.60

Washington, DC

Median rate for unreserved monthly parking: $230
Median rate for daily parking: $14

Sacramento
Median rate for unreserved monthly parking: $200
Median rate for daily parking: $16

Among the lowest daily parking rates in the country were Bakersfield, CA ($55), Ft. Lauderdale ($53), Reno ($45), and Phoenix ($40).

While it may seem outrageous to spend a few hundred dollars a month on parking in the U.S., it could be worse. Drivers in London spend an average of $933 a month in parking. Tokyo, Sydney, and Hong Kong also cost more than any American city.

I am well aware of the fact that I live in one of the most expensive cities in the country, and I wouldn’t move for anything, but you have to wonder why parking meter rates and fines have more than doubled in the past fifteen years, but that pothole down on Market and 5th just keeps growing and growing …

 

About the Author

Hi, I'm Natalie Josef. I work as an editor and writer for RepairPal. When I first started, I couldn't explain the difference between disc and drum brakes to save my life. Now, I could replace a transmission myself ... well, maybe not replace it, but at least I could tell you where it is. My mission in life is to rid the world of poor grammar and improper uses of punctuation ... a lofty goal, sure, but at least I get paid for my obsession. Besides correcting mistakes and trying to explain the difference between en and em dashes to the guys, I work as a soccer referee and enjoy heavy metal and classical music, English football (Go Tottenham!), and my cats.

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