Santa Monica parking spaces fill up fast and early seven days a week - especially during the busy summer months.
Don't even think about forgetting to feed any Santa Monica city parking meters you encounter - even for a quick in-and-out cappuccino run.
You're virtually guaranteed to receive an expensive souvenir of your pitstop - your very own $64 Santa Monica parking ticket. (I know because I just checked my check register.)
Parking enforcement is very aggressive here. Be late by a single minute, and expect to find a parking ticket tucked under your windshield wiper. Or worse.
A couple of years ago, in addition to receiving my very own parking citation keepsake - my car was towed to the city impound lot.
It turns out I parked in a space that transforms into restaurant valet parking only promptly at 5 p.m. I came out of the bookstore at 5:10 p.m., and my car was gone. That was a $400 lesson I will never forget - and one experience I assume you'd prefer to forgo.
To that end, the following tips will help guide you to a parking space close to your destination at a price you can live with.
The City of Santa Monica parking system uses technology and real-time information to keep cars moving on major boulevards and limit the impact of traffic on local streets.
This includes a comprehensive street wayfinding system, including signs directing motorists to off-street parking and displaying real-time parking availability at many public parking facilities and Santa Monica city parking meters.
There are several options for Santa Monica Pier parking:
City of Santa Monica beach lots are open for public parking from sunrise to sunset only. Fees vary by season and the location of the lot. Get the Comprehensive list of City of Santa Monica parking rates.
Beach parking lots are open for public parking from sunrise to sunset only, except for Lot 1 North, which is open from 6 a.m. to midnight. Fees vary depending on the season and location of the lot. (Se the rates for beach parking lots above.)
Parking structures 1 through 9 and the Civic Center structure are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. (See the comprehensive fee schedule above for rate information.)
Main Street Parking is available at four city parking lots, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The rate is $1.00 per hour.
Sundays, the Farmer's Market takes place at the California Heritage Museum parking lot; 2612 Main Street, Santa Monica.
Visitors are encouraged to park at Lot 5 south, located at 2600 Barnard Way, where parking is free until 1:30 p.m. with proof of purchase and a parking voucher from the Farmer's Market.
Parking meters accept payment by both credit cards and coins.
The city uses meter sensors to manage the limited supply of on-street parking that is always in high demand.
The sensors allow the city's real-time parking map (see interactive parking map above) to show a driver where available on-street parking spaces are.
The free smartphone app also provides real-time information. Parking enforcement hours for meters are as follows:
Finally, should you find yourself in my position - with your car towed from a city street or city-lot or structure - you can call the Santa Monica Police Department at (310) 458-8495 for further instructions. Be sure to bring your checkbook or credit card.