CARMAnation Tries Its App at Solving Parking Peeves

Google Maps shows the parking situation at 850 South Van Ness Avenue during the day.

Google Maps shows the parking situation at 850 South Van Ness Avenue during the day.

Little upsets San Franciscans more than the chronic lack of parking spots in the city and in the last year any number of apps have tried to solve the problem. The average driver wastes an estimated hour and a half each month searching for parking, according to a recent survey. 

Another app trying to reduce that time is CARMAnation. Its angle? Sell your private parking spaces for an average of $2 an hour. Launched in February, CARMAnation is a peer-to-peer sharing community of several thousand users who are both listing their spots and renting other spots. The process is simple: drivers offer to share or swap their private unused parking spaces for free or cash value. They are also given the opportunity to donate towards a local charity.

“San Francisco is perfect when it comes to working as a community,” said Ilya Movshovich, the chief executive officer of CARMAnation. “By working with the sharing economy, we’re focusing on solving the problem, instead of monetizing the process.”

In a survey of 1,000 Bay Area residents, CARMAnation found that some 57 percent cited the cost and chronic lack of parking as the most “annoying” thing in San Francisco. There are 471,388 registered vehicles in San Francisco but only 441,541 public parking spaces available. It’s unclear how many private spaces are available. 

“We know that parking is a big deal and everyone talks about it,” said Ashley Cummings, the co-founder and vice president of communication. “It’s about using this untapped resource of people who have parking spots. It’s a matter of leveraging that.”

In addition to helping alleviate parking issues, the start-up partners with local charities. When a user offers their spot for cash value, CARMAnation retains 15 percent on the transaction. But when a user offers their spot for charity, the money goes directly to community organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Make a Wish and Guide Dogs for the Blind. 

The app differs from the Sweetch and MonkeyParking apps, which focus on public parking spaces. Another app, Parkola deals in giving drivers real-time data on available spots.

CARMAnation is not only after private spaces at one’s address, but hopes to expand to larger unused parking spaces at public companies.

“With the Salesforces and LinkedIns around, the employees work nine to five and after, the lots are open with nobody using them,” Movshovich said. “It’s a great way to give back, getting people to work together.”

CARMAnation has yet to get a buy-in from any company that also has employee parking that is unused in off-hours.

“We’re trying to find balance in transportation for those who do drive and those who do share,” Movshovich said. “We’re privatizing parking one space at a time.”

7 Comments

  1. Russo

    Be a REAL San Franciscan: get a bicycle already.

    • scum

      I am a REAL San Franciscan, I have a car, two bikes, four skateboards and a Clipper Card, I mostly walk though.

    • yoyo

      Some people have disabilities and can’t ride a bike/walk to bart or muni. I’m sick of people assuming that if you drive it’s because you want to own a car, not because it is a necessity — which it is for the elderly and disabled. How long have you lived here, btw?

  2. godzuki

    Probably just chuckle at your narcissism, Mike.

  3. If you think the SFMTA is the problem and has no solutions, support the Restore Transportation Balance initiative: http://www.restorebalance14.org/

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