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Frequently Asked Questions

Why does the City charge for parking?
The goal of the 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 (2-3 blocks away) the hourly rate is still 25¢ per hour. All meter rates are in effect Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm.

The City will closely monitor activity in all public parking areas and adjust rates accordingly. The goal is to have 1-2 parking spaces open on each block, making it convenient to find parking and reducing the number of drivers who circle Downtown in search of a parking space.

Why do different parking areas have different hourly rates?
When high-demand parking areas are priced a bit higher than those a block or two away, long-term parkers often choose the lower-priced spaces. This opens up short-term parking in the Downtown core area and reduces vehicle circling, making Downtown nicer for everyone.

Can I get my parking validated?
Yes! Customers of Century Theatres can have their Jefferson Garage or Marshall Garage parking validated for 4 hours. Everyone else using those garages automatically receives 1.5 hours of free parking. This eliminates the cost and hassle of providing validation at numerous businesses, but provides the benefit of short validation for all Downtown visitors. The City will also evaluate new parking meter technology and will consider options for enabling other local businesses to validate on-street parking.

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

Pay-by-space machines accept coins (and dollar bills at the green-colored meters) and credit cards, and allow you to pay with your cell phone via PayByPhone. If you stay longer than you expected, you can add more time 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 Garage 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.

If you park at a single space meter, you either have to return to the meter before 10am to pay, or pay for the additional time until enforcement starts.

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 Parker™ 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. Also, the first 1.5 hours are free in the Jefferson Garage and the Marshall Garage. Before 5:00 pm on weekdays there is typically plenty of available parking in the Jefferson Garage, particularly on the lower level.

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, so if there is a line at one machine simply go to the next meter on the way to your destination. You can also use 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 gives change.

Where can I find free parking?
Click here for a map showing the wide range of free parking in the Downtown area, including the County Garage, which provides free public parking during evenings and on weekends. Also, the first 1.5 hours are free in the Jefferson Garage and the Marshall Garage, and there is typically plenty of parking before 5:00 pm on weekdays in the Jefferson Garage.

What are options on days when I don’t need my car?
Connect, Redwood City! offers easy, convenient, and affordable options to, from, and within Redwood City. Streamline your commute or run errands with car share, bike share, Caltrain, SamTrans, and other transportation choices. Learn more 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)

Back to downtown parking home page


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