What Do ‘Customer Parking Only’ Signs Really Mean?

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When you pull into a parking lot and see a “Customer Parking Only” sign, it’s more than just a polite suggestion—it’s a clear guideline meant to optimize the parking experience for a specific group of people. These signs are commonly found in busy commercial areas, outside restaurants, retail stores, and other business establishments. Their main purpose is to reserve parking spaces exclusively for customers, ensuring convenience and accessibility while they shop, dine, or use a service.

Let’s explore the importance of respecting these signs, their legal implications, and why they are beneficial for both businesses and customers.

The Purpose of “Customer Parking Only” Signs

A burger restaurant facade with a "Customer Parking Only" sign

Prioritizing Customer Convenience

These signs are intended to provide customers with convenient and accessible parking, making it easier for them to access businesses without the hassle of searching for a parking spot. This is especially important in crowded urban areas or shopping centers where parking is difficult to find. Customer parking only signs play a crucial role in enhancing the shopping experience. By designating parking spaces exclusively for customers, businesses ensure that visitors have easy access to their facilities. This convenience is vital for improving customer satisfaction and making everyone’s life easier. At Curbstand, we know how much drivers appreciate clear, visible signage when it comes to parking a car. It helps reduce traffic congestion, frustration, and confusion, especially during peak hours. Plus, when customers find it easy to park in a crowded area, they are more likely to return.

Enhancing Business Appeal By ensuring that parking spaces are available exclusively for customers, businesses can enhance their appeal and attract new customers. A well-organized parking facility signals that a business values its customers’ time and convenience. This welcoming environment also helps in building a positive relationship with first-time visitors. This extra attention makes any business stand out in a competitive area. Nobody likes to waste time looking for a parking spot!

Legal Implications of violating a Customer Parking Only sign

A car getting towed

While “Customer Parking Only” signs are generally placed by private businesses on private property, they carry certain legal implications. The enforcement of these signs in California is protected by Vehicle Code Section 22658 – Removal of vehicles parked on private property.

Here are a few key points: Towing and Penalties While “Customer Parking Only” signs help to deter non-customers, ignoring these signs can have costly legal consequences, including towing and fines. These penalties are not just punitive but also help prevent future violations. You don’t want to get caught twice! Business owners have the right to enforce these rules on their property, but the specifics can depend on local towing laws and signage requirements. In Los Angeles, if you violate a “Customer Parking Only” sign by parking without authorization, the cost for towing can vary depending on the towing company and the specific circumstances of the tow. You can expect to incur towing fees as well as any applicable storage fees if the vehicle is not immediately reclaimed.

Additionally, parking in a space designated as “Customer Parking Only” without proper authorization may also result in a parking citation, with fines that need to be paid to the City of Los Angeles. The amount of the fine will depend on the specific violation and the district in which the infraction occurred.

The City of LA and the Los Angeles Police Commission regulate and set the towing and storage rates for the Official Police Garages. You can find the rates at opgla.com/Rates and the Official Police Garages on this map: Google Maps.

Lastly, you risk not having access to your car for the night, as towing yards are only open during business hours.

Local Parking Ordinances

Some cities or municipalities may have specific ordinances that regulate the use of “Customer Parking Only” signs, including how they must be displayed and what actions can be taken against violators. To avoid confusion and ensure compliance, signs must be clearly visible from a distance. This involves using universally recognized symbols and fonts that can be understood at a glance. If you’re in an area with a diverse population, it’s wise to incorporate bilingual or multilingual signs.

Private Property Rights

Since these signs are typically on private property, the property owner or business has the discretion to enforce the rules as they see fit, within the bounds of the law. At our Curbstand parking facilities, we always prioritize patience and communication and only enforce towing policies after making multiple attempts to reach the vehicle’s owner. Our goal is to minimize any disruptions by maintaining a positive relationship with the community.

Benefits to Businesses and Customers

Improved Customer Experience through Convenient Parking

Woman laughing next a "Customer Parking Only" sign

Placing customer parking only signs does more than regulate parking; it serves as a final touchpoint with customers. These signs can carry messages of gratitude, thanking customers for their visit and leaving a lasting positive impression. Clear exit route signage also plays a crucial role. It helps prevent congestion and enhances safety by guiding customers smoothly out of the parking area. A well-thought-out sign placement ensures that the last moments of a customer’s visit are stress-free and pleasant. At Curbstand parking facilities, our attendants also provide assistance to anyone who may need help navigating out of the parking lot, ensuring a seamless and safe departure for every customer.

Reduced Congestion and Increased Efficiency

By limiting parking to only customers, businesses can reduce the congestion often seen in shared parking areas. This makes the environment safer and more organized. Having designated parking spots for customers helps businesses manage their premises more efficiently, ensuring that their actual clientele receives the benefits of accessible parking. Implementing 30-minute time restrictions encourages quick turnover, if the nature of the business permits it. This efficiency means more customers can be served, benefiting both the business and its patrons.


“Customer Parking Only” signs play a crucial role in the management of parking spaces in commercial areas. They ensure that customers have the best possible access to businesses, which in turn can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty. While these signs may seem simple, they carry significant weight in terms of legal enforcement and the overall customer experience. For business owners, understanding and correctly implementing these signs in accordance with local laws is key to maintaining a smooth operation and satisfied customer base.

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