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Photograph: Michael Juliano

Your LA parking and traffic law cheat sheet

By
Michael Juliano
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Tolerating L.A. traffic is a series of defeats and small victories—but mostly defeats. The same is often true of parking; anyone who’s circled the block in Koreatown or paid a premium for a spot on the Sunset Strip knows the agony of finding street parking.

But parking doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. Those small victories? You can thank curb colors for those. Here’s the gist: You can never park at a red curb, and white curbs—with a tiny number of exceptions—are for passenger loading only. But green and yellow-painted curbs are the secret spots of L.A. street parking. During the day they camouflage themselves as seemingly open spaces that you can’t actually park in, but at night it’s like they’re saved just for you.

Yellow curbs

Otherwise known as loading zones, these yellow-painted curbs are usually limited to passenger loading and commercial vehicles during the day. But in most L.A. County cities, they turn into regular parking spots (subject to any posted street signs) at night. Here are when yellow curbs are enforced (meaning don’t park there during these times, but do park there otherwise):

Los Angeles: Mon–Sat, 7am–6pm
Beverly Hills: Mon–Sat, 7am–6pm
Burbank: Mon–Sun, 8am–6pm
Culver City: Mon–Sat, 7:30am–6pm
Glendale: Mon–Sat, 9am–6pm
Hermosa Beach: Mon–Sat, 7am–6pm
Inglewood: Mon–Sat, 7am–6pm
Long Beach: Mon–Sat, 7am–6pm
Manhattan Beach: Mon–Sun, 7am–6pm
Pasadena: Mon–Sat, 6am–6pm
Redondo Beach: Mon–Sat, 7am–6pm
Santa Monica: Mon–Sat, 7am–6pm
South Pasadena: Mon–Sat, 6am–6pm
Torrance: Mon–Sat, 7am–6pm
West Hollywood: Mon–Sat, 7am–6pm
Unincorporated L.A. County: Mon–Sat, 7am–6pm

Green curbs

These short-term parking spots are typically limited to 15 or 30-minute limits. Not every city uses green curbs—they’re absent in West Hollywood and Manhattan Beach—but for those that do, they’re only enforced during these hours:

Los Angeles: Mon–Sat, 8am–6pm
Beverly Hills: Mon–Sat, 7am–6pm
Burbank: Mon–Sun, 8am–6pm
Culver City: Mon–Sun, 7:30am–6pm
Glendale: Mon–Sat, 9am–6pm
Hermosa Beach: 24/7
Inglewood: Mon–Sat, 7am–6pm
Long Beach: Mon–Sat, 9am–6pm
Pasadena: Mon–Sat, 6am–6pm
Redondo Beach: Mon–Sun 7am–6pm
Santa Monica: 24/7
South Pasadena: Mon–Sat, 6am–6pm
Torrance: Mon–Sat, 8am–6pm

Holidays

You know when parking meters and signs say “…except holidays”? In L.A. and most other cities, these are the days they’re talking about:

New Year’s Day
Martin Luther King’s Birthday
President’s Day
Memorial Day
Independence Day
Labor Day
Columbus Day
Veteran’s Day
Thanksgiving Day
Christmas Day

In Los Angeles, if the holiday falls on a Saturday, then holiday parking would also be in effect on the Friday before; if on a Sunday, then the Monday after. Other cities may always waive parking meters but not street sweeping on other holidays. For example, West Hollywood doesn’t enforce meter time limits on Cesar Chavez Day and Harvey Milk Day.

Overnight parking

Overnight parking is allowed in Los Angeles, unless a posted sign otherwise. But that’s not the case in every city: Without a permit, street parking is banned in Pasadena between 2am and 6am, in Beverly Hills from 2:30am to 5am and in South Pasadena from 2am to 6am. Certain areas, like West Hollywood, may have heavily restricted overnight street parking unless you have the proper permit. 

Long-term parking

Technically, any street-parked vehicle that hasn’t been moved in 72 hours is considered abandoned. That doesn’t mean the police are constantly patrolling your street, just waiting to tow your car, but it does mean that someone could report it. 

Some traffic PSAs

Since we have your attention, here are a few helpful traffic laws to know—and some neglected ones that Angelenos could use a reminder about.

You can make a left on red if you’re turning from a one-way street to another one-way street. This is true throughout California.

You can ignore red light camera tickets. You absolutely shouldn’t run a red light, but if you fail to pay a red light camera ticket in L.A. County, neither the DMV nor credit agencies will be notified. Beverly Hills has notoriously stepped up its number of red light cameras, but as long as the ticket comes from the county, you can ignore it.

Lane splitting is legal. As much as you may shake your fist at the motorcyclist squeezing between your car and the one next to you, it’s perfectly legal—assuming they’re doing so safely within the speed limit.

Leave space between your car and bicyclists. Legally, you’ll need to leave at least three feet.

Flashing red traffic lights are treated like stop signs. We would’ve thought this was basic driving knowledge, but the number of drivers who barrel through them or stay stopped says otherwise. The same goes for a broken traffic light.

You can’t wear headphones in both ears. Sorry, smartphone addicts, but you need to keep one ear open.

You need to yield to emergency vehicles. It doesn’t matter what direction it’s coming from; pull over, unless you’re in the middle of an intersection, which leads us to...

Don’t block intersections. You know how you snuck through a yellow-turning-red light even though there wasn’t enough room for your car on the other side of the intersection? You just violated the Anti-Gridlock Act of 1987, and your fellow blocked commuters aren’t very happy. 

If your wipers are on, your headlights should be on. We get it, it doesn’t rain very often, but it’s just common sense.

Use your turn signals. That’s just us being cranky.

In the mood for some light legal reading? Brush up on some city municipal codes below if you want to know more about everything from boat parking to the laws behind line painting—plus, we aren’t lawyers (so don’t blame us if you do get a ticket); do your own research with the links below. 

Beverly Hills
Burbank
Culver City
Glendale
Hermosa Beach
Inglewood
L.A. County
Long Beach
Manhattan Beach
Pasadena
Redondo Beach
Santa Monica
South Pasadena
West Hollywood

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