Parking in Downtown Santa Rosa

Update December 31, 2017: As of tomorrow, January 1, 2018, the city is instigating new parking zones which makes much of what I wrote last Spring now inaccurate. In an attempt to help with the confusion, I summarized the changes for you here.

Both the meters and lots in the downtown and Railroad Square area will now have premium and value zones with different rates and time limits for each. On the bright side, parking fees will now begin at 10 am, rather than the previous 8 am. However, the premium lots and metered spaces will now charge until 8 pm.

Looking at the map on the city’s website, most of 3rd to 5th streets between B and E streets will now be premium spaces. Metered spaces and lots in this zone are $1.50 an hour with a 3-hour maximum from 10 am to 8 pm. If you’re willing and able to walk a few blocks, the value meters and lots offer 4 to 8 hours parking at $1 an hour, and you only have to pay until 6 pm.

Garages 12 (located by the Roxy Theater and the transit mall) and 1 (on 7th Street between Mendocino and B) will now offer the first hour for free and then charge 50 cents an hour up to a $6 daily maximum. The other garages downtown will be 75 cents to $1 per hour with daily maximums of $8 to $10.

Wishing you a Happy New Year!


Original post:

Parking downtown can feel overwhelming; I have heard people share their frustration. This week, I’ll explain the different places for you to park when you’re visiting my neighborhood.

There are types of options: parking lots, garages, and street parking. Your best choice depends on what time of day, what day of the week, and where you’re shopping.

Some Businesses Validate

If you’ve come to visit one of the many businesses that validate, ask the business for a validation coupon for any of the five downtown public garages. Corrick’s and Kindred, two of my favorites mentioned in a previous post, are participants of the “Shop Here–Park Free” program.

If it’s Sunday:

The outdoor city lots and street spaces are free. If you’re whooping it up Saturday night, this makes it easy to leave your car overnight.

If it’s a holiday:

See the parking meter for a listing of nine holidays that are free in the surface lots and street spaces. The holidays included are New Years, Martin Luther King, Presidents, Memorial, Independence, Labor, Veteran’s, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

If it’s between 6pm and 8am:

City lots and street spaces are free.

City Parking Garages

The 5th Street Garage

These covered garages give you the most flexibility if you’re not one for keeping track of time. Take your ticket with you to pay at the machine on your way back. Cost is 75 cents per hour, with an $8 daily maximum. There are no free days or hours in these garages. Garages are a good option if you plan to leave your car overnight and want to save money compared to a $35 expired meter ticket.

Some spaces are reserved for permit holders, so just watch for signs. Also, in the 5th Street/Beaver garage, parking in the morning between 6 and 9am is prohibited on the ground floor and first up ramp. Also note the 72-hour limit.

The Parking Lots

These surface level, uncovered lots cost $1 per hour.

  • A good choice if you’re only going to stay a couple hours or if it’s after 4 (you can fill the meter until 6 and then it’s free).
  • Some have metered spaces where you use change or the “Passport Parking” app (see below)
  • Some have a kiosk nearby where you pay with cash or credit card and then display your receipt in your windshield
  • Most spaces have 2-hour limits
  • The lot just north of the post office has some 10-hour spots

Street Parking

  • Most of these spaces are metered with 2-hour limits, use coins or the Passport Parking app

    parking meter
  • Some neighborhoods surrounding downtown have free 2-hour parking

Passport Parking

This “mobile payment application” sounds pretty nifty. It allows you to pay with your phone either through the app or on the web. The application will send you a text when your meter’s almost out of time, and allow you remotely to add funds up to the posted time limit.


If you’d rather not deal with parking at all, hop on a Santa Rosa CityBus or a Sonoma County Transit bus. Sonoma County Transit is free for veterans, and free for college students at least through 2017. Each service has several buses that stop at the transit mall located on Second Street between Santa Rosa Avenue and B Street. Note that 7th and Mendocino is no longer a bus stop, a fact I learned the hard way…

Thanks for stopping by, I hope I’ve demystified downtown parking options for you.

Hope to see you downtown!


5 thoughts on “Parking in Downtown Santa Rosa

  1. This really useful! My Mom and I were thinking of taking a trip to Santa Rosa for art shopping. I am always afraid to go to Santa Rosa and get lost, because I never know where I can park and look up directions. What is the most busy part of Santa Rosa btw. CS5711


    1. Thanks for reading! I’m glad you found this week’s post helpful. I’m not sure what the most busy part of Santa Rosa is. I do know that Corricks and the Made Local Marketplace have great art. Both of them are mentioned in my previous post, “Low Stress Shopping: Finding Fabulous Gifts Downtown”


  2. Wow! Thank you so much for this great information! Most of the time I tend to stay away from Santa Rosa because of the parking. After reading your post, I will now know what to look for during the days I do go to downtown Santa Rosa. I will also pass on this information to my friends and family. Again thank you for informing us!
    Yesenia M.
    Cs 57.11


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