Parking For Private Car Shares Sees Backlash In The Haight

Photo: Amy Stephenson/Hoodline
By Amy Stephenson - Published on July 01, 2014.
The city's proposal to lease two parking spaces on Page Street to car share companies has garnered a bit of a backlash in the neighborhood, with flyers appearing to oppose the plan. Michelle and Calvin Welch are behind the distribution of the flyers, which ask people to support the testimony against the proposal, and will be presented on Friday, July 11th at the SFMTA meeting we reported on last week. 
The argument on the flyer states that giving the spots to companies like Zipcar (which is owned by Avis) will "simply replace one car with another while not increasing transit choices for anyone. In fact, it would privatize a shared, currently free, scarce public resource making it available only to paid members of a car share program." The flyer goes on to state that "the city attorney has recently ruled that parking spaces cannot be sold or leased to private companies, which is what this 'pilot program' seems to be doing on Page Street."

We reached out to Andy Thornley at SFMTA for a response to this claim. He told us that research has shown that for every shared car, 7-15 vehicles come off the road, which means, ultimately, that a few spaces for car shares will alleviate the Haight's notorious parking woes. 
"We very much appreciate that permitting private businesses exclusive use of the city’s curb parking (even just a fraction of a percent of the total supply) raises serious questions about equity and the public good, so we're testing things further and collecting more data using this pilot. Participating car share organizations (City CarShare, Zipcar, and Getaround) will pay monthly permit fees for the parking spaces, and they'll have to collect and share a lot of data with the SFMTA about how the vehicles are being used, and who's using them. At the end of two years we'll evaluate the data and potentially recommend making on-street car sharing a permanent program, if the pilot experience so indicates."

As to the claim that the city is selling off parking spaces to private companies, he says that the code in question is "meant to regulate merchandise and material piled or placed on sidewalks and the roadway," and other sundries, but doesn't apply here. The city has a separate regulation regarding car share parking spaces, which you can read, heaven help you, here

The hearing, as you know, is on July 11th at 10am, in City Hall room 416. You can download the agenda now to get an idea of what will be covered. 

In addition to sustainable.streets {at} sfmta {dot} com, you can also submit your comments to Andy directly at andy.thornley {at} sfmta {dot} com.

And if you find yourself in agreement with Michelle and Calvin Welch but haven't seen their flyer going around, you can draft one yourself and drop it off to them at 519 Ashbury Street. 
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