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Student Guide

Welcome to the City of Gainesville! We hope that the information on this page will help make the transition to living in Gainesville for the next few years easier. In this section, you will find some of the necessary resources, as well as a general overview of some of the laws of your new city and unexpected fun that Gainesville has to offer!

Basic Local Information

Voter Registration: Registering to vote in the city that you live is important because it gives you a voice in your local community. To register in Alachua County, contact the Supervisor of Elections at 352-374-5252 or online at the Supervisor of Elections' website.

Department of Motor Vehicles: The Driver's License Division can assist with driver's licenses, driving tests and ID cards. For more information on how to schedule an appointment and the various requirements to show proof of identification and address, please visit Alachua DMV online or call 352-374-5236.

Public Transit: Cars are not always needed in Gainesville as we have Regional Transit System (RTS), a reliable public bus service that runs frequently throughout the day around town and to campus, as well as select routes at night. RTS provides FREE bus rides to all SFC and UF students. For schedules and a GPS locator app, visit

Gainesville Regional Utilities: GRU serves the Gainesville area with electric, water, gas, wastewater and telecommunications services. For more information on GRU, how to turn on your services or how to conserve energy, please visit their website at or call 352-334-3434.

Solid Waste (trash pick up)

  • Yard waste: this includes all leaves, branches, grass clippings and small tree limbs, but does NOT include boards or lumber. Place out yard trash in designated bags and leave curbside on your designated day by 7 a.m.
  • Normal solid waste: common trash pickup happens weekly at various days based on area of town. Please have all garbage in bags and cans curbside by 7 a.m. on your designated day to ensure pickup.
    • Large appliances, paint, toxic chemicals, etc. can NOT be put by the trash for normal pick up. Schedule a free pick up of these items online at the GRU scheduler. Furniture does not apply and can be left curbside with normal garbage.
  • Recycling is encouraged in Gainesville! If you live in an apartment or condo, contact your landlord to find out where your recycling station/area is located. For more information, call 352-334-2330 or visit

Animal Control: All animal control is done through Alachua County Animal Services which can be reached at 352-955-2333. Please note that many apartment complexes and rental areas have pet restrictions. This is typically left to the landlord's discretion.

Local Government: Please be aware that many divisions of city government, especially those located in City Hall, operate under a Monday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-6 p.m. schedule and are NOT open on Fridays. If you are interested in anything that the City of Gainesville has to offer, you can always visit us online at or watch us on shared local Community 12TV, where you can catch City and County Commission meetings and much more.

Get Gainesville: Connect with Gainesville, GPD, and more on various social media websites. If you prefer, you can sign up for our RSS feed or come to a City Commission. Our Get Gainesville Web page helps you stay in touch with what is going on in your community. You can stay abreast of Gainesville events, news and local issues in different ways. All you have to do is decide what method works best for you.

Gainesville Police Department and other important laws to note for Gainesville and Alachua County

Gainesville is policed by three different agencies based on where you are: Gainesville Police Department, Alachua Sherriff's Office and University Police Department (on campus and surrounding areas). Gainesville Fire Rescue services the greater Gainesville area's fire and EMT needs.

City Vehicle Parking: Vehicles are permitted to park ONLY in designated areas. Parking in the yard or any other non-designated parking area is prohibited in the area surrounding the university. Additionally, areas of decaled parking can be found around UF and downtown. Violation of this may result in a parking violation.

  • Where do I pay my parking tickets? Is this different from a traffic ticket?
    • Parking tickets need to be paid at the Parking Violations Office located inside Gainesville Police Department or can be paid online at their site.
  • Where do I pay any traffic tickets?
    • Traffic citations can be paid at the Clerk of Courts, located at 220 S. Main St. This is not city hall, but rather two blocks south of the University and Main St. intersection.
  • How do I get a parking permit for restricted areas?
    • The city operates a restricted parking program in the University Context Area, northeast downtown and in the southwest courthouse area. On-street parking in these zones is designated for residents, businesses and visitors of these areas. If you do not have a permit/decal/hangtag and park in these areas, you will likely be towed.
  • What happens if my car has been towed?
    • If you have been towed, it has likely been by one of the area's independently operated towing companies. Signs will likely be posted informing of which company has jurisdiction to the specific area. Please call that company and they will be able to assist you as to the location of your vehicle.
  • What if my vehicle was towed by Gainesville Police Department?
    • To get a vehicle out of impound, the registered owner of the vehicle must pick it up from the police station at 721 NW Sixth St.

Drugs and Alcohol: Gainesville has a strict NO OPEN CONTAINER law in place. This means that you cannot have any open alcoholic beverage in a public area such as beer, wine, a mixed drink in any cup, an alcoholic beverage with a broken seal, etc. on any public right-of-way such as a street, sidewalk, or parking lot. This is in accordance with Gainesville City Ordinance 4-4B and is a misdemeanor which can result in your detention and arrest.

Alachua County also strictly enforces a 2 a.m. close time for all local bars Monday-Saturday. Please drink responsibly and NEVER drink and drive. Gainesville has many transportation services from late bus routes to taxis and bicycle carts to provide a safe route home.

Noise Limits / Party Patrol: The Gainesville Police Department's Party Patrol focuses on noise and other neighborhood violations. Violations include any noise that can be heard from 200 feet away and can include car stereos, home noise, voices, music, etc. Noise permits are available to public property and public spaces, but are not available for private property. Violation can result in a civil citation or a notice of violation. To report a violation, call 352-955-1818.

City of Gainesville local services and entertainment!

Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs

Click on any of the above pictures to link to different divisions of recreation and find something fun to do this weekend!


Arts and Culture

Gainesville is home to several acclaimed performing artist groups, ranging from thespians to musicians to dancers. For more information about upcoming concerts, shows and our art galleries, please visit


Gainesville gets very hot in the summer and the Division of Aquatics encourages all to participate in swimming programs, special events and activities at our three local pools.

Admission and hours are posted online. For pool reservations, please call 352-393-8732

Recreation Centers

Eastside Community Center
Westside Recreation Center
Thelma Bolton Senior Activity Center
Northeast Community Center
TB McPherson Recreation Center
Union Academy/Rosa B. Williams Recreation Center
Porters Community Center
Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Center

For a complete listing of hours and activities, please visit the city's community center page.


Gainesville Skate Parks

Gainesville's Northwest side is home to three skate parks, Albert 'Ray' Massey (Westside) Park, Possum Creek and the Northwest Complex. To find out more about the parks, hours, rules and exact location, visit the city's online information page

Special Events and Historical Buildings

Gainesville is home to many beautiful locations for special events and weddings. These locations, as well as others, such as the Southeast Bed and Breakfast District, Matheson Museum Complex and the Thomas Center (ranked by The Knot as one of the most popular wedding spots 2006-2012!), etc. provide beautiful local backdrops for any special occasion. Visit online for more information on city rentals and reservations or call 352-334-2189.

Citizens' Academy: Gainesville 101

Want to know more about how Gainesville works? Enroll online for Citizens' Academy: Gainesville 101 and learn more about the operations that occur every day to help make Gainesville great. This course is completely free and meets on Wednesdays for six weeks in the spring and fall. For more information, you can also email and get up to date information!