Katherine Lauriente thinks the city has made a dumb decision by giving away free parking spots to Smart cars.
The False Creek resident is upset that her building lost three free parking spaces reserved for visitors last week after they were turned into four new parking spots for members of Car2Go, a car-sharing company owned by German multinational Daimler AG. The company launched in Vancouver in June 2011 and currently has a fleet of more than 300 vehicles.
Lauriente rents an apartment in a low-rise building on Creekside Drive, an out-of-the-way cul-de-sac overlooking Fisherman’s Wharf, and says taking away free parking for residents’ friends and family in favour of making money from a private business is unfair.
“The main thing that stuck in my craw and of the people in the building I’ve talked to about it is not only that we’ve lost the parking, but basically they should have come in and asked if anybody planned to use [Car2Go’s] Smart cars because, guess what, we all have our own cars,” said Lauriente. “Our [building] manager was as surprised as I was.”
Parking stalls reserved for Car2Go users can be found at 33 different locations throughout the city, and drivers renting from the company are also permitted to park in all Resident Only Parking areas. In Lauriente’s neighbourhood, there are already three designated spots a few blocks away in the 1500-block of West First Avenue.
“The other things that I found a little bit twitchy is that they pay the city for the right to have these parking spots, so of course the city is going to want to put Smart car parking spots because they are going to be a revenue-earner,” added Lauriente. “It certainly doesn’t compel the city to want to give us back our free spots.”
Calls by the Courier to city hall seeking details of its arrangement with Car2Go, one of three separate car-sharing companies or organizations operating in the city, were not returned by deadline. Car2Go’s communications manager Katie Stafford also did not respond to emails requesting a comment.
An increasing number of Vancouverites are looking for alternatives to car ownership, and last month a Metro Vancouver study of 80 buildings and 1,500 apartment units found that thousands of parking stalls are sitting empty.
“Residential parking supply in strata apartments generally exceed parking demand in the range of 18 to 35 per cent across the region,” states the report, which also found parking demand is particularly low in homes located near transit hubs and among renters.
Lauriente says a close friend recently suffered a stroke and, if none of the four remaining visitor parking spots are vacant, will now have to walk two or three blocks to access her building.
“I feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg because we can’t be the only neighbourhood having this problem.”