They are as much a part of Beacon Hill as the gas street lamps and historic homes: all those bright orange parking tickets.
On a recent Tuesday afternoon, one car after another was slapped with a citation. A plumber’s commercial van. A white Mercedes with tinted windows. A black pickup with one ticket on the windshield and another tucked behind the visor.
No place in Boston attracts more parking tickets than Beacon and Charles streets in Beacon Hill, according to a Globe review of the city’s 6.8 million parking tickets over the last five fiscal years that found clear patterns in the way Boston hands out violations.
The review found that you are significantly more likely to get a ticket in a handful of downtown blocks especially around lunch time on weekdays.
Citywide, you are most likely to get a ticket Tuesday through Friday, when parking enforcement is at its peak. Fewer tickets are issued on Mondays and Saturdays partly because there are fewer staff members on duty, according to a review of the city’s tickets.
Sunday remains mostly a day of rest for parking enforcement, when city officials write less than one-10th the average number of tickets that they do on other days. The city normally doesn’t have any parking enforcement workers between Saturday at 11 p.m. and Sunday at 10 p.m.
“There is a thing where some people feel Sunday is a holy day” and should be exempt from parking tickets, said Mark Chase, who teaches transportation planning at Tufts University.
Though meters aren’t running, some other rules — like residential permit parking — are technically still in force in some areas on Sunday. And don’t get too complacent. Police officers can still write tickets, particularly if they see someone blocking traffic or causing other safety problems. The city sometimes has enforcement staffers on duty for special events, too.
The city data show that the time of day matters when weighing the risk of getting a ticket. The fewest tickets are given out before dawn, when the meters haven’t started running and the streets are mostly empty. And at night, officers travel in pairs for safety, reducing the total ground they can cover.
Conversely, the most parking tickets are issued from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. when most parking spaces are occupied and most enforcement workers are on duty. There is also a spike in parking tickets after the meters start running at 8 a.m.
Certain parts of the city seem to be magnets for tickets: commercial streets around Beacon Hill and Boston Common, such as Beacon, Charles, and Tremont streets; Newbury Street, famous for its boutique shops and restaurants; and some streets in the financial district where parking is scarce and enforcement officers keep a close eye on metered parking. Indeed, just seven blocks accounted for nearly one in 20 tickets given citywide.
“Sometimes it appears that there is meter reader on every block of Charles and Beacon,” noted Ben Starr, who lives on Beacon Street and handles parking issues for the Beacon Hill Civic Association.
By contrast, there are hardly any tickets given on sleepy residential streets that don’t have meters or permit parking. For instance, the city issued only a couple of tickets a year on Cliftondale Street, a small residential street in Roslindale, and about one a month on Bardwell Street in Jamaica Plain.
As you might expect, the largest number of tickets are issued on busy streets in central Boston with parking meters, where people often fail to put enough money into the meter or stay longer than the usual two-hour time limit.
Parking tickets — and our exertions to avoid them — touch almost everyone in the region. Nearly 2 million vehicles were tagged with a ticket since July 2010. And almost everyone who drives in Boston has faced the challenge of finding a place to put their vehicles in a city where spaces are so scarce that two tandem parking spots in the Back Bay fetched $560,000 two years ago.
Parking tickets have also become a significant source of revenue for the city. The city plans to spend $14.5 million this year on parking enforcement, but generates about $57 million a year in fines. And city officials say enforcement is necessary to keep the streets clear of double-parked cars, block people from permanently squatting on spaces, and give residents some hope of finding parking in their neighborhood.
“We do more than give out tickets,” said Gina Fiandaca, the head of the city’s transportation department. “We keep the city moving.”
Fiandaca thinks her team is succeeding: The number of citations dropped from 1.6 million from fiscal 2010 to 1.3 million in 2015, continuing a decline the Globe first spotted several years ago.
Fiandaca said she believes people are simply doing a better job of complying with the law, perhaps aided by technology. The city recently expanded an application that allows users to pay for parking meters with their smartphone to the entire city. And since 2007, it has offered an e-mail service to notify residents about street sweeping.
But the drop in tickets could be partly due to a drop in staffing: The city has 155 parking enforcement officers, down from around 169 in 2010. A spokeswoman said the city tries to maintain about 165 officers, but the figure fluctuates.
In some parts of Boston, the parking rules are complicated, tripping up visitors who haven’t learned them. Indeed, it is common to see street poles stacked with multiple parking signs on Beacon Hill.
For instance, the north side of Beacon includes a combination of commercial loading zones, metered parking during the day, and resident parking at night. But there is a different set of rules on the south side of the street, including limited residential parking and spots reserved for State House media. And both sides have restrictions for street cleaning.
“There are a lot of layers and idiosyncrasies to the parking regulations here,” said Starr of the Beacon Hill Civic Association. “I have seen visitors stare at the signs for 10 minutes trying to figure out if they can park there.”
But Starr said he hasn’t heard many complaints from residents because he thinks most of the tickets are issued to people from other neighborhoods or cities.
Lisa Nee, who lives in South Boston, received a $45 ticket when she briefly double-parked near the intersection of Charles and Beacon streets last May, along with many other parents, to take pictures of her daughter dressed for her high school prom.
Nee said there were so many other cars and limos stopped in the area, she never imagined she would be cited.
But when Nee returned to her car, she found it and many others were adorned with the familiar orange envelopes. City records show a parking enforcement worker gave out a total of 14 tickets in the area around the same time.
“We didn’t think they would give out that many tickets,” Nee said. “They made a good amount of money.”