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Downtown Parking FAQ
Updated July 29, 2014

At its June 23, 2014 meeting, the City Council approved an ordinance designed to make the City’s parking program more responsive to the changing dynamics of Downtown parking usage, and to better accommodate the overall parking needs in our Downtown.  These changes will go into effect on August 4, 2014. Here is a compilation of Frequently Asked Questions about Downtown parking and meter rates.

Why does the City charge for parking?
The goal of our parking program is to ensure that there is convenient parking for everyone who wants to visit Downtown. Charging for parking is the most effective way to do that, while providing flexibility for people to choose how long they want to park, how much they want to pay, and how far they are comfortable and/or able to walk.

Some communities on the peninsula use time limits to ensure that people don’t simply park and leave their car all day in a high-demand parking space. This is one way to manage the parking supply – but it requires significant enforcement to ensure that people don’t exceed the time limits (and typically issue a LOT of parking tickets) and time limits aren’t flexible to meet changing needs as businesses evolve in an area. For example, a 1-hour time limit might work perfectly for a retail shop, but when it’s replaced by a restaurant a 2-hour time limit might be more appropriate.

What are the meter rates?
The meter rates vary by location. In the core of Downtown, the rate is $1 per hour and on the outskirts of Downtown the hourly rate is still 25¢ per hour. All meter rates are in effect Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm.

The City will be closely monitoring activity in all public parking areas and adjusting rates accordingly with the goal of having 1-2 parking spaces open on each block. This makes it convenient to find parking and reduces the number of drivers who are circling Downtown in search of a parking space.

Why do different parking areas have different hourly rates?
When the most desirable spaces are priced the same as areas a bit further away, they get crowded and don't "turn over." This means that motorists circle the same block over and over waiting for a spot to open, congesting our streets and polluting the air. However when the high-demand parking areas are priced a bit higher than those a block or two away, the long-term parkers often choose the lower-priced spaces, opening up short-term parking in the Downtown core and reducing vehicle circling, making Downtown nicer for everyone.

Can I get my parking validated?
Yes! Customers of Century Theatres can have their Jefferson or Marshall garage parking validated for 4 hours. Everyone else using those garages is automatically given 1.5 hours of free parking. This was done to reduce the cost and hassle of providing validation at numerous businesses, but provides the benefit of validation for all Downtown visitors.

Over the next year, the City will be evaluating new parking meter technology. One feature/service that will be considered is the ability of businesses to provide validation for on-street parking.

I don’t carry a lot of change, how can I pay for parking?
In the periphery where parking costs 25¢/hour our parking meters currently only accept coins. If you don’t have coins – you can park in one of the parking garages or in spaces within the Downtown core that are outfitted with pay-by-space meters. More information on our meters is available here.

Pay-by-space machines accept coins and credit cards, allow you to pay with your cell phone via PayByPhone, and the green-colored machines also accept dollar bills. If you end up staying in Downtown longer than you expected, you can add more time to your parking space at any pay-by-space meter or with PayByPhone. This service can also send you a text message to remind you when your parking session is getting ready to end! See for more information.

I park before 10am, do I have to pay for the time before enforcement starts?
No, you don’t. Here are some options:

  • Park at a numbered space that is covered by a pay-by-space meter.
    • These meters know when parking starts and will apply your money when enforcement hours start (currently 10am).
    • You can park when you arrive and then use the PayByPhone feature to pay before enforcement starts.
  • Park at one of the gated facilities (Jefferson or Marshall garage) where you only pay for the time that you are parked. All parkers at these two garages automatically get 1.5 hours free.

Currently our single-space meters aren’t “smart” enough to apply money to a future time. If you choose to park at one of these meters, you either have to return to the meter before 10am to pay, or pay for the additional time until enforcement starts. Over the next year as the City evaluates new meter technology, this is a feature that will be considered in comparing the meter equipment.

How can I get parking information if I don’t have a smartphone?
Parking information is available on the City’s website – Smartphone users can use the ParkerTM app to access information on iPhone and Android phones. You can also search for other apps on your smartphone which provide parking information.

Do I have to pay for an hour if I'm just making a quick visit?
The Downtown parking meters accept all coins except pennies, so if you only need a few minutes, simply pop in a nickel or a dime. You can also use credit cards or PayByPhone for the pay-by-space meters.

Should I pay at the pay-by-space meter closest to my car?
You may pay at any pay-by-space meter when you park in a numbered parking space; if there is a line at one machine, simply go to the next one on the way to your destination. You can also PayByPhone.

Should I put my pay-by-space meter receipt on my dash?
No - the meter receipt is for your convenience. It shows the expiration time, so you do not need to wonder how much time you have left. It also shows your parking stall number, which makes it easy to add time at any of the pay-by-space meters or via PayByPhone.

Do the meters give change?
No, none of the parking meters give change.

Where can I find free parking?
Click here for a map showing the wide range of free parking in the Downtown area.

What are options on days when I don’t need my car?
Connect, Redwood City! can help.  On days when you don’t need your car, consider alternatives to driving to Redwood City. Connect, Redwood City! encompasses programs like Zipcar, Bay Area Bike Share, Caltrain, and SamTrans, making it easier to get to and around town even when you take transit, carpool, walk, or ride a bike to work. Learn more about these options at:

For additional information about the City’s parking program, check out our website at

Downtown Parking Map

  • Yellow: enforced Monday – Saturday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Orange: Monday – Saturday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Green: free parking available after 6:00 pm every evening and all day Saturday and Sunday
  • Blue (pay-on-exit gated facilities): open every day until 1:00 am

Downtown Parking Map

(Click here or on map for full-size PDF)



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