Parking FAQs

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about parking locations, purchasing permits, parking lots, parking citations, towing, and more.

Parking Locations

Q. Where can I find free public parking in the Union City Station District?

A. Two-hour maximum parking is available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm on Alvarado-Niles Road, Meyers Drive, 12th Street, J Street and in the J Street Lot. There is no parking fee for parking up to two hours at these locations.

  • Parking is free after 6:00 pm and on Saturday & Sunday in Area S permit locations and in City Lot 1.
  • Parking is free at on-street metered locations, including Union Square & 11th Street, after 8:00 pm Monday thru Saturday and all day on Sunday.

Q. Can all-day BART commuters park at metered spaces located on Union Square and 11th Street?

A. No. Metered street parking is limited to 4 hours maximum. For all-day BART commuters, City Parking Lots 1 and 2 are conveniently located on 11th Street, directly behind the BART station. Other all-day parking is available on 12th Street, J Street, the J Street Lot, Meyers Drive, Alvarado-Niles Road, and the Station Center garage.

Q: Is parking free on holidays?

A. Parking in all locations is free on City Council-designated holidays. Holidays include New Year's Day, Martin Luther King’s Birthday, President's Day, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving Day, Friday after Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

Q. If City offices are closed, it that also a parking holiday?

A. No. Parking is enforced any day that is not a City Council–designated holiday.

Q. Where can I park overnight?

A. On-street parking may be used for overnight parking. Overnight parking is also available in Parking Lot 1, but payment must be made at a meter located in that parking lot.

Q. Where can I store my car for several days?

A. Parking for up to two weeks can be purchased in City Parking Lot 1. This is especially convenient for persons traveling by BART to airports or train terminals. A full day of parking (24 hours) in City Parking Lot 1 costs only $6.

Q. Can I park in City Lot 2 overnight?

A. Overnight parking and multi-day parking are allowed in Parking Lot 2 when your vehicle displays an Area S Permit.

Paying for Parking

Q. What is the cost of hourly and daily parking?

A. Hourly parking, available at metered locations, costs $1.00 per hour. There is a maximum $6.00 per day charge for parking in City Lot 1 and City Lot 2. On-street metered parking is restricted to a maximum 4-hour stay.

Q. Can I use my credit card and debit card in parking meters operated by the City?

A. City parking meters accept MasterCard & Visa credit cards and debit cards. Discover credit cards are also accepted.

Q. What forms of cash do parking meters accept and do parking meters give change?

A. City parking meters do not accept cash or coin payments. 

Q. Is parking free if the parking meter where I park is broken?

A. Every metered parking space is served by more than one parking meter. Payment can be made at any of the meters. Should you encounter an out-of-service parking meter, payment can be made at the next closest meter. If you should find a parking meter out of service, please call the telephone number provided on the meter to report the problem. In doing so, you will ensure that other customers will not be inconvenienced. The City promptly repairs out-of-service parking meters.

Q. Do all City parking meters work the same?

A. City parking may look alike but parking meters on the street and in parking lots work in different ways. On-street parking meters are pay-and-display. To use these meters, you must pay for the parking time you intend to use, take a receipt, and display the payment receipt on the right front side of your vehicle's dash board.

Parking meters in parking lots are pay-by-space. To use pay-by-space meters, enter the number of the space where you parked your vehicle, then pay for the parking time you intend to use. With pay-by-space parking meters, there is no need to return to your car and display the parking receipt. The machine remembers which spaces have been paid for.

Q. Why does the City use parking meters that work differently? Isn’t that more confusing?

A. There are benefits with each type of parking meter. By locating pay-and-display parking meters on the street, there is no need to mark standard sized parking spaces along the curb so more vehicles can be accommodated. Also, it is sometimes more difficult for parkers to find space numbers when vehicles are parked on the street. Pay-by-space numbers are better for use in large parking lots because parkers don’t need to take a long walk back to their vehicles to display their parking receipts. Also, in a parking lot, it’s easier to find the painted number for each of the parking spaces.

Q. Why is it that City parking meters on the street have a 4 hour daily maximum?

A. City streets with parking meters are primarily for short-term use by City residents and business patrons. These areas help ensure that there is adequate parking for City residents, visitors, and shoppers.

Parking Lots

Q. Does BART operate parking lots near the Union City BART station or does the City?

A. BART operates the parking lots in front of the Union City BART station. The City of Union City operates Parking Lot 1 & Parking Lot 2, which are located on 11th Street.

Q. Which parking lots can be used by commuters?

A. City Parking Lot 1, City Parking Lot 2 and the J Street Lot may be used by commuters. All other City parking lots, including the Kennedy Center Lot in Kennedy Park, require special City Facility Permits that are not available to the public.

Q. Are City Parking Lots 1 and 2 open to City residents?

A. City residents may park in City lots 1 & 2 but everyone parking in those lots must pay for parking or display required permits Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm. City residents may park free in parking lots 1 & 2 on weekends and parking holidays.

Q. My vehicle is oversized. Can I park in City parking lots?

A. Vehicles parking in City Parking Lot 2 must fit within space markings and may not extend into driving lanes. Oversized vehicles (large pickup trucks or vans) may park in Lot 1 but, if these vehicles take up or block more than one parking space, receipts for all parking spaces used or blocked must be displayed on the right front dashboard of the vehicle. Vehicles in excess of 10,000 lbs. and trucks with more than two axles are prohibited from parking in lots 1 & 2.

Q. Can vehicles displaying state-issued handicapped parking permits or license plates park free in City-operated parking lots 1 and 2?

A. No, although specially marked parking spaces are set aside to ensure parking access for disabled parkers, all vehicles parked in Parking Lot 1 must pay parking fees and all vehicles parked in Parking Lot 2 must display a valid Area S permit or pay parking fees.

On-Street Parking

Q. Can I park my car in the evenings, on weekends and overnight on City streets that require permits or payment at meters?

A. Overnight parking is legal on streets that may have parking restrictions at other times. No fee or permit is required to park on streets after posted enforcement hours.

Q. Can vehicles displaying state-issued handicapped parking permits or license plates park for free on City streets?

A. Yes. Vehicles displaying a valid handicapped parking permit or plate are exempt from payment of on-street parking fees.

Q. I live off of Alvarado-Niles Road and leave for work at 8:00 am and get home at about 4:30 pm. I have always parked my car on Alvarado-Niles Road when I get home, but the City has installed 2-hour maximum parking signs along the street. Now I have nowhere to park.

A. Residents can park from 4:00 pm on into the evening on any street with 2-hour maximum parking that ends at 6:00 pm. Parkers are entitled to park for two hours free and parking is not restricted until 8:00 am. So, it is still possible to park from 4:00 pm until 10:00 am without risking a parking citation.

Purchasing Area S Permits

Q. Why should I buy a parking permit?

A. Area S parking permits are the least expensive City-provided parking option for people who need all-day parking in the Union City Station District on a regular basis. Area S permits cost $240 per quarter.  If you purchase your Area S permit at or before the beginning of a calendar quarter, your daily parking cost will be $2.67 or less. In comparison, all-day parking at the City’s metered lot is $6.00 per day. Area S permits are an attractive option for commuters who park, on average, more than three days per week and commuters who prefer the convenience of making one parking payment each calendar quarter, rather than paying daily at a parking meter.

Q. Where can I buy an Area S Parking Permit?

A. Area S permits can be purchased anytime, day or night, at the City’s website or by calling the Parking Help Line at 510-477-1780. Purchases can be made using Mastercard or VISA credit or debit cards, Discover Card, American Express or PayPal.

Q. What else do I need to know about ordering an Area S Parking Permit?

A. You may purchase your permit one month prior to the start of a quarter. 1st quarter is January through March, 2nd quarter is April through June, 3rd quarter is July through September, and 4th quarter is October through December.  Permits are only valid when displayed during the applicable quarter.

Q. Is there a price break if I order a permit for a quarter that is already half over?

A. No. Area S permits are sold for a flat fee. There is no proration for parking permits purchased late in the cycle.

Q. I purchased a permit but I'm no longer commuting by BART. Can I return my Area S Permit for a refund?

A. Area S Parking Permit sales are final. Permits cannot be returned for refund.

Q. Can I sell my partially used permit to another commuter?

A. Area S Parking Permits may be transferred from person to person and permit holders may sell their permits if they desire.

Using Area S Permits

Q. Can I park in metered areas using an Area S Parking Permit?

A. No. Area S permits cannot be used for parking in metered spaces. There is ample parking available for Area S permits holders. Look for Area S permit signs in the following locations: City Parking Lot 2, 12th Street, J Street, the J Street Lot, Meyers Drive and sections of Alvarado-Niles Road.

Q. Our family has more than one car. Can the Area S Permit be used on different cars?

A. The Area S Permit may be used on any vehicle. The permits are “hang tag” style permits and can be easily transferred from one vehicle to another.

Q. I’m in a carpool but members of the carpool take turns driving. Sometimes one of us will have a doctor’s appointment or some other reason that we don’t participate in the carpool. Do we need to buy multiple permits?

A. Area S Parking Permits are “hang tag” style permits and designed to be easily moved from vehicle to vehicle. There is no need for carpool members to purchase multiple permits. On days when carpool members cannot travel together, one member can use the Area S permit and other members can purchase one-day parking at City Parking Lot 1 or Parking Lot 2.

Q. I have an Area S Permit that I forgot to display? Can I get my parking citation dismissed?

A. Area S Parking Permits are only valid when displayed. It is the responsibility of the permit holder to display the permit by hanging the permit on the vehicle’s rear view mirror with the front side of the permit facing out. Parking citations are valid if permits are not displayed or are improperly displayed.

Parking Citations and Towing

Q. Why does the City tow cars?

A. Public parking is for use by everyone. It is not intended for use by people who are storing vehicles. The California Vehicle Code provides a process by which public agencies can remove vehicles that are parked in violation of parking restrictions.

Q. Does the City process all of its own parking citations?

A. In order to control costs, the City contracts with a citation processing service. Please visit to pay a parking citation received in Union City.

Q. Is there a service charge to pay online?

A. There is a service charge (fee) billed on all credit card payments. The amount is listed on the payment screen.

Q. Does the City need to write parking tickets to balance its budget?

A. Parking citations are issued to make sure that parking rules and regulations are observed, not to make money. Parking citation revenues are used to provide and maintain parking services and to recover the costs of enforcing parking regulations.

Q. Does the City use a private contractor to enforce parking and are they paid based on the number of citations issued?

A. In addition to enforcement provided by the Union City Police Department, Union City contracts with a private contractor, LAZ Parking, to provide enforcement personnel for the Public Parking Services program administered by Public Works. Neither Union City employees nor LAZ Parking or their personnel are paid based on the number of citations issued.

Q. Is there a parking ticket quota?

A. There is no parking citation quota. The number of citations given increases and decreases with the level of compliance with parking laws.