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SF to convert up to 1,000 parking spaces into car-sharing spots

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A report by the SFMTA found that about 60,000 additional vehicles could be on city streets if car-sharing did not exist in San Francisco. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)

Car-sharing parking spaces are no longer an experiment in San Francisco; they’re fully legal — and soon, may occupy as many as 1,000 existing parking spaces in The City.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency Board of Directors voted on Tuesday to approve a full permit program for car-sharing, including making regular parking spaces designated for shared vehicles only.

Those 1,000 former private car parking spaces may now house shared cars from fleets like private vehicle share companies Getaround or Zipcar, which offers cars to be “shared,” or rented, by customers.

“What spots are being taken away from the public to make way for these cars?” SFMTA board member Art Torres asked.

Andy Thornley, an SFMTA senior analyst, responded that any public parking space in San Francisco with a grey curb, except metered spaces, is fair game.

The SFMTA started the pilot to grant car-share companies public parking spaces in 2013 with about 200 spaces. The result of the pilot is extensive data that Thornley presented to make his case to the board.

And while the SFMTA approved up to 1,000 parking spaces for vehicle sharing, Thornley cautioned it was unlikely all of those would be used in the near future. Those spaces would be chosen through a public process, including crowdsourcing opinions from the public, with final approval tentatively scheduled for the fall.

“For your information and the public’s information, we’re setting a cap of 1,000,” Thornely told the board, adding, “I think it’s unlikely we’ll get to 400 [spaces] in the next several years.”

Though that may irk some drivers, car-sharing may ultimately reduce car ownership, SFMTA staff wrote in a report, finding that about 60,000 additional vehicles could be on city streets if car-sharing did not exist in San Francisco.

SFMTA staff noted that there are 140,000 car-share members in San Francisco. In surveys to those customers, as many as 23,000 car-owners said they may have sold their cars due to vehicle-sharing services.

Some members of the public spoke out against the proposal, citing a corporate giveaway.

“I’m of the mind The City should not dole out the commons for private use,” said Bruce Wolfe, who is a member of some neighborhood groups but was speaking as an individual.

“I think this is gross, to me,” he said.

San Francisco resident Patrick Maley said he also felt it was a giveaway to private corporations, adding, “They’ll make a lot of profit off these. They should be using a private lot.”

Data compiled by the SFMTA showed on-street parking spaces were shared by an average of 19 different people each month and used for an average of six hours per day, far more often than privately owned cars were used.

“Each permitted parking space served many people, rather than just one private vehicle at a time,” SFMTA staff wrote.

The cost of car-share parking space permits will vary between sections of The City. The inner urban core, including downtown, will cost $234 per parking space, per month. A slice of San Francisco in the center of The City will cost $156 per space, and the outer neighborhoods in the west and south will cost companies $54 per space, per month.

“We did this to make sure every neighborhood had access to this,” Thornely explained, so “folks in the Bayview, the Excelsior and the Sunset had access.”

While the SFMTA board vote is mostly final, a full vote by the Board of Supervisors is still required to finalize some changes to transportation code, including changing language for parking infractions from describing a “car-share” space to a “shared vehicle” space.

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