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Zipcars and parking

Let’s sort this out.

A plan to allow more on-street parking spaces for cars Houstonians could rent by the hour hit a bump Wednesday, when city council members balked at moving beyond the pilot program they approved nearly two years ago.

Expansion of the city’s car-sharing program will wait at least another week, as staff address some of the concerns raised. As devised, the program would allow Houston to enter into agreements with car-sharing companies, firms that allow via smartphone app someone to check out a vehicle and then drive it wherever, which usually requires a membership that comes with a monthly or annual fee. The car could then be left at any designated location, including returning it to the original spot.

Skeptical council members struggled with the idea of reducing public parking or allowing a private company control over the spots.

“These parking spots belong to the city and to give them to private companies for their use, it just doesn’t seem to make sense to me,” At-Large Councilman Michael Kubosh said.

[…]

Though it is growing, the Houston area’s car sharing program lags other cities, such as Boston where hundreds of pickup locations dot the region, and Denver, which worked out city regulations allowing companies to purchase on-street parking spaces or buy a placard allowing cars to be parked at any public spot within a specified area.

The Houston area has about two dozen spots where cars can be accessed from a handful of companies, but only one of those firms — Zipcar — has an on-street location. The rest are located in private lots, such as Bush Intercontinental Airport and major universities in the area.

The companies have aggressively marketed to transit riders and others who would prefer not to own a vehicle in dense urban areas, while maintaining the ability to grab a car when they need it.

Zipcar leases four spots in Midtown, as part of pilot with the city that started in January 2017. Typically, the company keeps a variety of cars in the downtown area, including “Polar Bear,” a Nissan pickup and “Mayor Turner,” a Mazda 3 that on Thursday was parked in one of the on-street spots on Bagby and available for $9 per hour or $74 for the entire day.

According to a city presentation on the program, membership in car sharing programs has increased 3.9 percent since the on-street pilot began, with 16 percent of members giving up their automobiles.

While supporters say more is needed to convince increasing numbers of Houstonians to ditch their cars and choose transit, bicycles and shared cars to get around, skeptics question whether the benefits outweigh the costs in terms of lost parking spaces for vehicles that only a limited number of people can use.

Under the proposal, Houston could enter into master licenses with the various companies interested in on-street spaces, and designate which spaces could be used. As Zipcar does now, the companies would pay the city for use of the parking spaces on a monthly basis.

I must have missed the story about expansion in 2017, but there was a previous expansion in 2014. You can see their current locations here. I don’t really see a problem with leasing some parking spaces to Zipcar, as long as the city gets paid a fair price for it. I agree with Mayor Turner, one of the few ways we have available to us to combat traffic is to provide ways for people to get around without driving. Services like Zipcar allow people to get by in their daily life without needing a car all the time. We should take reasonable steps to enable that.

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2 Comments

  1. Manny Barrera says:

    If the city did not mind pissing off some property owners, they could make money by charging to park in front of the resident’s or owner’s property. The streets are public property. There are many places where parking is horrendous and often the solution is to prohibit parking or allowing only residents to buy permits to park in front of their houses. Not the best way to make money, the spaces should be available to the highest bidder.

  2. Manny Barrera says:

    Once a day I go to the other blog that represents the Trump Party. Today I find that they are attacking Metro and the decision Rail decision, why is that. They are preparing their followers as to how wasteful Democrats are when they have control. https://bigjolly.com/bill-king-after-spending-over-2-billion-on-light-rail-metro-is-carrying-fewer-riders/

    The fight, back then, was where is development going to occur. In the Suburbs or in the inner city. The inner-city development folks won that fight and as such Metro has been a success. The inner-city is doing well and Metro is one of those reasons, but it was not just rail, Discovery Green, Minute Maid, there are people working to make Houston a better city, but it ain’t magic it it is a slow process. https://panampost.com/editor/2017/03/21/houston-is-a-model-for-cities-with-explosive-population-growth-housing-demand/

    Let us not forget that Bob Lanier was a Democrat who did things a la FDR, whom the Trump Party hates for putting in place things such as Social Security. The Trump Party want to dismantle Social Security, one of FDR’s greatest accomplishments.

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