Parking countdown #8: Car sharing reduces parking demand
This is the third in a daily series about why the Zoning Commission should approve the Office of Planning recommendations on off-street parking.
The hearing is Thursday, July 31 at 6:30 pm. Please try to attend and testify if you can, or submit comments to the zoning commission in this thread.
Today's topic: Why car sharing services, like Zipcar, enable lower minimums.
Car sharing provides a key piece of the puzzle to give residents a real choice between car ownership and not. Anyone should be free to own a car, but we should also ensure that adequate alternatives exist for the 37% of DC households who do not own cars, including those who choose not to own cars. 20% of new car-sharing customers even give up their cars when switching, and each shared car takes five other cars off the road and out of parking spaces.
The OP recommendations require new parking facilities with 50 spaces to provide one car sharing space, with another for every additional 100 spaces. Each of these spaces would go for free to a car sharing service interested in utilizing them, whether Zipcar or another service in the future.
Some opponents argue that this requirements subsidizes car-sharing companies. But a requirement to provide car-sharing spaces in large garages no more subsidizes a company than plumbing requirements subsidize plumbing companies. Any company can choose to provide a car-sharing service; there is only one operating in DC right now, but there were two until recently, and in the future, if market conditions make a second potentially profitable, there will be again. Meanwhile, Philadelphia and San Francisco both have car-sharing nonprofits, and in San Francisco the nonprofit City CarShare competes with the for-profit Zipcar.
Besides, many developers are already choosing to include car-sharing in their developments, since many potential residents appreciate the service. Having a Zipcar in the garage makes giving up a car more appealing, helping residents to save money. Since developers are putting in car-sharing spaces anyway, any requirement is no great burden.
A small car-sharing requirement will lower housing costs by decreasing car ownership rates, lower VMT saving money on road repair and improving our air, and make the parking minimums even more clearly unnecessary. The Zoning Commission should approve the OP draft, removing most minimums and requiring car sharing spaces in large parking facilities.
Please write comments for the Zoning Commission here and testify on the 31st.
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