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San Francisco is losing 14,000 street parking spaces. Here’s why

A truck is parked on a sidewalk next to a street where a motorcycle passes by. There's a red curb and greenery along the walkway.
A new state law restricts drivers from parking vehicles within 20 feet of a crosswalk, whether the cub is painted or not. | Source: Courtesy SFMTA

A major new rule for parking was just added to the books in California that aims to improve street safety at a cost to San Francisco of thousands of parking spaces.

In 2024, in addition to curbing tires, checking bumpers and always reading street signs, motorists must now avoid parking within 20 feet of the approach of a crosswalk.

The change to the Vehicle Code is a result of Daylighting to Save Lives Bill AB 413, which requires cities across the state to “daylight”—clear sight lines between drivers and people crossing the street by removing parking—to reduce the chances of dangerous crashes.

For San Francisco drivers, that means the loss of thousands of public parking spaces. For pedestrians, it means safer conditions.

Officials from the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency anticipate about 13,775 on-street parking spots—or 5% of all street parking—will be affected by the law.

The city boasts approximately 442,000 public parking spaces, with 275,500 on streets and 166,500 in garages and lots, according to a parking census conducted in 2014. If those 442,000 spots were strung together, it would be 900 miles, exceeding the length of California’s 840-mile coastline.

The new law does not provide cities with any funding or require curbs to be painted red at crosswalks. It’s the responsibility of drivers to leave a parking space’s distance between their vehicle and a crosswalk on the approach side, whether it’s painted or not.

The image shows a split view comparing the visibility of pedestrians for two drivers.
A before-and-after illustration shows the improved sightlines for drivers caused by removing vehicle parking beside a crosswalk. | Source: Courtesy SFMTA

“San Francisco does not have resources to paint every crosswalk corner approach red, and a program that relies only on paint would require repainting every corner approximately every five years or so; thus, it would also require significant maintenance resources going forward,” said Stephen Chun, a spokesperson for the transportation agency.

San Francisco officials vowed in 2013 to eliminate traffic fatalities and reduce severe injuries on city streets by 2024 as part of Vision Zero SF, a program first implemented in Sweden in the 1990s. Despite the investment of millions of dollars, meeting the goal has failed. Preliminary figures show 25 people were killed in traffic collisions in 2023, according to city data.

Daylighting is one tactic in the transportation agency’s overall Vision Zero commitment to reduce traffic deaths. And it’s backed by researchers at the National Association of City Transportation Officials, which found that visibility for drivers is central to the safety of intersections and driveways.

Crosswalks on every street identified as dangerous to pedestrians and bicyclists in 2017 have been daylighted, and all of the crosswalks identified in 2022 are expected to be daylighted this year, Chun said.

READ MORE: San Francisco Spent Hundreds of Millions To End Traffic Deaths. People Are Still Dying

The transportation agency applied daylighting to 80 intersections in the area of the Tenderloin bounded by Market, Mason, Pine and Larkin streets. A total of 180 parking spots were eliminated. Fourteen percent fewer reported collisions at intersections were reported afterward.

The agency recently received a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to create an accurate, real-time map of all curb regulations in the city called the Digital Curb.

“The Digital Curb will provide an up-to-date (and regularly updated) parking census. We hope to complete the Digital Curb project by June 2025,” Chun said.

That street curb map will come in handy for drivers in a year’s time once parking control officers stop giving notices and start handing out tickets.

Alex Mullaney can be reached at

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