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City CarShare Finds Space at Glen Park BART
By Kathy Dalle-Molle
Although City CarShare just opened a new location in nearby Glen Park, CarShare's Volkswagen bugs and station wagons are still circling Noe Valley, looking for a place to park.
On Aug. 1, the popular nonprofit service, whose members can rent cars by the hour or the day, parked two shiny vehicles, a green Volkswagen Beetle and a silver Volkswagen Jetta station wagon, in the BART parking lot at the corner of Bosworth and Diamond streets. With the addition of the Glen Park site, CarShare members can now pick up and return cars at 25 locations around the Bay Area. But unfortunately, they don't have a place to hang their keys in Noe Valley.
Earlier this year, CarShare was hoping to park two cars in the public parking lot on 24th Street near Castro (between Radio Shack and Le Zinc Café). However, the plan met with opposition from Noe Valley merchants, who said they counted on the turnover of the 15 spaces in that lot--the only public parking lot on 24th Street -- to stay in business.
After the public lot was crossed off the list, City CarShare manager Annie Bourdon stepped up her efforts to find an alternative Noe Valley location. "We're looking for at least two spaces, where we can keep the cars at all times," she said.
On July 11, Bourdon attended the monthly meeting of Friends of Noe Valley, to gain support for CarShare and to gather ideas about where the program might park its vehicles. At the meeting, the Friends voted unanimously to bring the bugs to the neighborhood.
"We think CarShare is a fabulous program," said Friends vice president Jeannene Przyblyski. "It makes environmental good sense and has the potential to improve the quality of urban life. With this vote, we wanted to show that Friends of Noe Valley supports City CarShare, rather than has concerns about the program. We believe it will be a definite plus."
Friends members also decided that the most likely way to get CarShare into the neighborhood would be to put one car in each of several parking lots. "We realized that it would be difficult for the merchants who have parking lots to give up more than one space," Przyblyski explained. "But we felt like one space would be a reasonable thing to ask for. We hope to find a couple of lots that are close enough in proximity that it will work out well."
In late July, Przyblyski wrote letters to the managers of Bell Market on 24th Street and Walgreen's on the corner of Castro and Jersey, asking the stores to consider allotting a single parking space to City CarShare.
Both managers told the Voice that the decision to provide a parking space would have to be made by the stores' corporate offices and that they had forwarded Przyblyski's letter on to their respective headquarters for consideration.
Przyblyski also wrote a letter to Rev. Keenan Kelsey, pastor of the Noe Valley Ministry, requesting that the church include a space for City CarShare in the new parking lot it is building at the former Dan's Auto Service at 3861 24th Street. (The Ministry lot is expected to be completed by Thanksgiving.)
Another suggestion made at the Friends of Noe Valley meeting was that CarShare appeal directly to individual homeowners. Perhaps a resident would be willing to trade space in his or her driveway for a certain number of free hours of use of a CarShare vehicle each month.
Przyblyski said she also would like to see a space for CarShare made available in Upper Noe Valley. "The condominium complex that is going to be built on the Reilly mortuary site [at the corner of 29th and Dolores] would be a great place for CarShare," she said.
Meanwhile, City CarShare's Bourdon remains optimistic about finding a Noe Valley site. "We hope we'll have a couple of cars in the neighborhood sometime this fall," she said. "We're willing to be as flexible and creative about finding spaces as we can -- as long as the spaces are legal."
She notes that in addition to the new Glen Park BART location, there are two car pickup spots fairly close to Noe Valley: the public parking lot at 18th and Collingwood streets in the Castro, and the New Mission Garage on 22nd between Valencia and Bartlett streets.
In the year and a half since its founding in San Francisco in March 2001, City CarShare has gone from 12 cars and 40 customers to 65 cars and more than 1,700 customers. To sign up, members must pay a $300 refundable deposit, a $30 application fee, and $10 per month dues. Members also pay $3.50 an hour (up to $35 a day), plus 37 cents per mile, which includes gas and insurance.
For more information or to suggest a site for cars in Noe Valley, contact Annie Bourdon at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 415-995-8589. You can also log on to City CarShare's web site at www.citycarshare.org. M