San Jose has a lot to offer for both recreational and business visitors. Downtown San Jose specifically has renowned restaurants, casual lounges and pubs, endless food options and services, museums, parks, events, farmers markets and a thriving arts scene.

San Jose is also the gateway to other iconic destinations in the area. Gorgeous wine country to the north, Santa Cruz and Monterey to the south, and breathtaking trails and terrain are all a day-trip away from San Jose. Having a car can be helpful for exploring the attractions outside city limits, especially if you are short on time. With that being said, a car is also entirely unnecessary if you intend on using the public transit. The train station is located downtown and can get you up and down the peninsula, from San Francisco to Oakland, east bay to west bay and south.

If you are going to rent a car during your visit, or if you’re driving in, be aware of the parking rules in San Jose. Here is our round-up of everything you need to know.

Rules for Parking

In order to park your car legally on the streets of San Jose, you need to pay attention to three key details:

  1. The color of the curb

Red curbs are no parking zones. Typically, you will find them near bus stops and fire stations.

White curbs are five-minute parking zones, which are to be used for picking up and dropping off passengers. You will find these near schools, hospitals, and restaurants.

Green curbs are 10-minute parking zones, typically found near ATMs.

Yellow curbs are parking areas reserved for commercial vehicles only.

Blue curbs are areas reserved for people with disabilities. They do not have any time restriction.

To park your car for longer amounts of time, you need to find an unpainted curb. Once you have located one, pay attention to the time limits.

2. Time limits

Look for signs that dictate the time limit for parking in the area. In a residential neighborhood, the time limit is usually two hours. If there is no signage, you can park your car for a maximum of 72 hours. After your time limit has expired, you must move your car to another block. Do not make the mistake of driving around and parking on the same block. You can be fined!

3. Street cleaning schedule

Street cleaning times are indicated in every parking zone. You cannot park your car before the street cleaning has occurred. If you are sure the streets have already been swept, you can park the car in the area, even if sweeping hours have not yet expired. You can find a street sweeping schedule for San Jose neighborhoods here.

Other rules for parking in San Jose

Your parked car should always be in the same direction as the flow of the traffic.

When parallel parking, your vehicle’s wheels should be no more than 18 inches from the curb.

When parking on a slope (of which there are many in San Jose), your vehicle’s front wheels should be angled such that if the brakes should fail, the vehicle would roll into the curb and not onto the street. For parking uphill, that means angling the tires away from the curb, and for parking downhill, towards the curb.

Beware of tow-away zones. Certain parking zones are tow-away zones during rush hour. Tow-away restrictions are written in red on sign posts and on parking meters.

Paying for Parking

You can pay parking meters in San Jose with coins, credit cards, prepaid cards, and even by phone. To utilize the pay-by-phone option, download the PayByPhone parking app. Enter the location of the meter and pay the requisite amount. You can use the app to replenish your parking time before it expires.

If you park at a multi-space parking pay station in San Jose you can get on your journey more quickly, not having to look for monies or return to your vehicle to display a ticket. Furthermore, you can remotely extend your time limit from any pay station or via the Pay-by-Phone mobile app, eliminating the need to return to the original parking meter. The multi-space parking pay stations replaced single space parking meters to include new configurations that moved from pay-by-space to pay-by-plate technology. This technology tie together pay station data with license plate (LPR) technology, mobile enforcement solutions and “Cloud-based” payment methods, such as pay-by-cell.

You can get prepaid parking cards from local merchants in the city. They come loaded with $20 or $50 to spend. You can also buy prepaid parking cards online. However, they take at least a week to arrive. If you are looking to utilize the parking space of a restaurant or hotel, be aware that most places in San Jose will charge you a parking fee.

We suggest visiting the San Jose Parking website to locate parking lots near your destination. This downtown San Jose parking website is packed full of information and will be a great resource to make your stay a better one.