Car-share parking zoning amendment considered

City seeks to promote use of car-share vehicles by increasing availability of off-street parking spaces. On July 14, 2010, the City Planning Commission heard testimony on the Department of City Planning’s zoning text amendment proposal intended to promote the use of car-share vehicles in the City. Companies like Zipcar, Connect by Hertz, and Mint provide car-share vehicles to registered members on an as-needed basis, 24 hours a day. Drivers reserve the vehicles by phone or the internet and are able to pick them up and drop them off at the same location. According to Planning, using carshare vehicles can reduce the total number of vehicles in the City, helping to alleviate traffic congestion and decrease air pollution.

The zoning resolution does not recognize car-share vehicles and contains no clear rules as to where companies are permitted to park or store the vehicles. If adopted, Planning’s amendment would formally define car-share vehicles and establish that car-share vehicles would be permitted to park in certain offstreet public and accessory garages. 7 CityLand 59 (May 15, 2010).

At the Commission’s hearing, representatives from two car-sharing companies, Connect by Hertz and Mint, spoke in support of the proposal. Connect by Hertz’s Jackie Van der Ploeg stated that approximately 40 car-share members use one vehicle, and that one car-share vehicle can take fourteen personal vehicles off the road. Regional Plan Association’s L. Nicolas Ronderos praised the overall proposal, saying it reached the “right balance” by permitting more vehicles in higher density areas and less in lower density areas. Ronderos, how however, said the City should consider in the future eliminating any cap on car-share vehicles in the highest density areas.

Brian Cook, the new land use director for Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, testified that the proposal is a “great example” of how the zoning resolution can be modified to address changes in consumer patterns. Cook noted that a conflict might arise between car-sharing companies and residents with personal vehicles over the use of accessory residential parking facilities. He said additional signage could be used at residential garages to inform residents that they have priority over car-share vehicles when leasing available spaces.

No one spoke in opposition.

CPC: Hearing on Car Share Text (July 14, 2010).

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