Alexandria City Council unanimously approved a pilot program Tuesday for on-street carsharing in the Carlyle and East Eisenhower area.
The program will take 10 to 12 parking spaces away from public use so Hertz can set up its carsharing vehicles in the area. The company will pay the city $1,500 per space annually.
The program was approved for two years, at which point city staff will return to council with data and other considerations.
Mayor Bill Euille called the program “a move in the right direction and long overdue.”
Zipcar currently operates 16 carsharing vehicles in off-street spaces in private parking facilities and at Metro stations primarily in the Old Town area.
The area for the pilot program was chosen because of its density and likeness to areas in which on-street carsharing has proven successful in Arlington County and Washington, DC, according to Rich Baier, director of the city’s Department of Transportation and Environmental Services.
Arlington currently has 62 on-street spaces designated for carsharing, while the District has reserved 84 spaces on-street spaces.
Several council members expressed concerns about taking away public parking spaces in Carlyle, where spaces can be difficult to find.
Baier said he removed Old Town from consideration for the pilot program because of parking concerns that have emerged in discussions of the waterfront plan and the implementation of Capital Bikeshare. Parking space leasing fees for the carsharing vendors would be higher ($2,300) in Old Town.
Councilman Justin Wilson said he wasn’t enthralled with the idea of excluding Old Town from the initial program.
“If these cars are used, they reduce the amount of on-street parking that we’re taking up,” he said. “… I think the miracle of the free market helps us out. The fact is, a corporation of any size is not going to park at $25,000 to $30,000 asset on a street corner, pay the city a few thousand dollars every year to have it sit there and collected dust. If the vehicle is not used, they’re going to pull it out. …. We’re being far too modest about something that’s used everywhere.”
Euille said the approval of the pilot program didn’t preclude staff from coming back at a later date and suggesting carsharing for other neighborhoods.
“I think if it were to go to places like Old Town or Del Ray or others, I think we have to be really sensitive to the limitations that already exist for people, even property owners,” said Councilman Paul Smedberg, who earlier questioned why city staff was rolling out only a pilot of a well-established business.
Earlier this month, rental car company Avis acquired Zipcar for $500 million.
Council also passed a resolution Tuesday establishing a policy to approve future on-street carsharing sites in the city. Some of the guidelines include:
- Vendors seeking consideration for on-street spaces must submit requests to the city’s Traffic and Parking Board.
- Vendors will be selected through a competitive bidding process.
- No more than two designated on-street parking spaces per block will be reserved for private carshare vendors.
- The per space rate for leasing will be set annually based on meter revenue.
Consideration of program and policy were deferred from January’s first legislative meeting after Euille received a letter from local attorney Jay Test, a former candidate for state delegate, expressing a variety of questions about how carsharing would work in the city.
"The city is active in promoting alternate modes of transportation, and car sharing allows people the ability to commute by transit, get rid of their car, and have a car if they need to make a trip,” "… So it really encourages a car-free lifestyle.”