Goodbye, parking lots. Hello, parking app.

| May 28, 2013
Parked cars in San Francisco California

Parking is tight and scant in San Francisco (via Wouter Kiel).

Sharking for parking: the phrase used for the repeated circling of blocks and lots filled with parked cars, with nary an empty spot for the frustrated driver who sees “NO PARKING” signs at every turn.

It’s the situation Anthony Eskinazi found himself in before a Giants game in San Francisco when he searched in vain for a parking spot. “Wouldn’t it be great if I could knock on that lady’s door, give her $10, and park in her driveway,” he remembers joking.

Today Eskinazi can do just that via ParkatmyHouse.com, the UK-based outfit he founded in 2006. Instead of sharking for parking, users of the service can now share parking. Homeowners or organizations with unused driveways, garages, or lots can list their spaces with the company, which takes a commission when a driver books a space. The service is fully automated; there’s even a parking app.

Parkatmyhouse.com has proven popular in the UK, where it boasts more than 150,000 members. It’s been especially appealing to users with spaces near busy airports or city centers, where parking is at a premium and drivers long to avoid the hassle of looking for parking or paying the often higher costs of commercial lots and garages.

Take the area around Harvard University, says Alicia Hickey, a data analyst with ParkatmyHouse.com. Parking at a garage there costs $9 for the first hour, whereas a space offered through ParkatmyHouse.com costs $2 per hour or $24 for the day. The company will always offer rates “cheaper than parking with a meter or in a commercial car park,” she told the press.

Users benefit equally from the service. Besides the additional income it provides — one user has made almost $70,000 by offering airport parking — some find peace of mind: a car parked in a driveway can give the impression someone’s home when residents are really away on vacation. And, for some elderly users, the regular interaction with drivers is more valuable than the extra cash earned through the service.

There’s even a way of looking at the service as a kind of “green parking.” Because users take advantage of existing unused spaces, that lowers the need to build more garages or lots. It also lowers greenhouse gas emissions since it cuts down on the time drivers would otherwise spend congesting roads in an effort to find spots in competitive parking areas.

Eskinazi is in the midst of expanding the services to America, where ParkatmyHouse.com has received a round of financing from BMWi, the New York City-based venture fund operating under the umbrella of the luxury car company.

Now that ParkatmyHouse.com has released its parking app, which the company had aimed to complete in the first quarter of 2013, it’s focused on building a database of customers’ driveways locations. That will give the company the inventory it believes in needs to properly launch in the US, where it will first target New York City and Washington, DC.

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Category: Parking Tech

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