| Update September 29, 2010:
Car sharing is a service that can improve the mobility of New Yorkers, providing them with a wider range of economical transportation choices, while helping increase parking availability within neighborhoods. The Department of City Planning is proposing a city-wide zoning text amendment that would allow car share vehicles to park in off-street parking garages and lots in suitable locations.
What is Car Sharing?
Car sharing is a relatively recent concept in transportation and mobility. With over 275,000 members (2008) and more than a dozen car sharing organizations across the nation, car sharing is becoming a practical and viable transportation option for many people. Over a third of U.S. car sharing members reside in New York City, making New York the largest car sharing market in the nation. Car sharing allows an individual who is a registered member of a car share organization to use vehicles on an as-needed basis, typically by the hour. A member has access to a variety of vehicles that are maintained by the car share organization and stored at dispersed locations. Some of the key characteristics of car sharing are:
- membership is open to the general public;
- vehicles are available on an hourly basis through a self-service reservation system;
- vehicles are located at unstaffed locations;
- vehicles are available 24 hours a day; and
- the car share company provides insurance for its members and maintains vehicles.
The Benefits of Car Sharing
Car sharing can offer an efficient, economical, and convenient alternative to car ownership for those who drive relatively infrequently. The member does not have to pay the costs of owning, maintaining, and parking a car, but only for the time they use the vehicle. It can increase the mobility of individuals who either cannot afford to or choose not to own a car by giving them access to destinations that are not accessible by mass transit.
Car sharing also benefits the community and the environment. National studies show that membership in a car sharing service leads people to own fewer cars – while results vary among the studies, between 6-32% of members either shed a car that they own or postpone buying a car after becoming a member. Because each car sharing vehicle can serve as many as 40 or more members, this reduces the number of cars neighborhood residents need to own, which helps increase local parking availability. Studies also show that car share members drive less, which has beneficial effects for reducing traffic congestion, air pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions.
Proposed Zoning Text Amendment
The off-street parking regulations in the City were written nearly a half century ago, and did not anticipate the recent emergence of car sharing. The proposed zoning text amendment would define car sharing in the Zoning Resolution and establish clear rules allowing car sharing vehicles to park in public parking facilities (garages and lots that serve general-purpose parking), as well as in parking facilities accessory to residential, commercial, and other uses, within appropriate limitations based on use and zoning district.
Under the proposal, individual parking facilities would be able to choose whether they wish to allow the storage of car sharing vehicles, within certain limitations:
- In public parking facilities, which serve a wide range of users, car sharing vehicles would be allowed to occupy up to 40 percent of parking spaces.
- In accessory residential parking facilities in medium- and high-density residential districts, car sharing vehicles would be allowed to occupy up to 20 percent of parking spaces or a total of five spaces, whichever is greater.
- A smaller number of car sharing vehicles would be allowed in larger residential group parking facilities within lower-density multifamily residential districts, as well as in accessory parking for commercial, manufacturing, and community facility uses. Here, in parking facilities that have at least 20 spaces, up to 10 percent of spaces could be occupied by car sharing vehicles.
- In one- and two-family residential districts, car sharing parking would not be allowed, except in accessory parking facilities for colleges and universities.
On April 26, 2010, the proposed Car Share zoning text amendment (N 100284 ZRY) was referred to all Community Boards, Borough Boards, and Borough Presidents for a 60-day review period. On Wednesday, July 14, 2010, the City Planning Commission held a public hearing on the proposal.
On August 11, 2010, the City Planning Commission approved the text amendment with modifications*. Read the CPC Report.
On September 29, 2010, the City Council adopted the Car Share text amendment. View the adopted text amendment.
In response to issues raised during the public review, the Commission approved the zoning text amendment with the following modifications:
- Modify the amendment to include the Manhattan Core (Community Districts 1-8) in the provision that allows a resident to request a residential accessory parking space that is rented to a non-resident.
- Include language on the required plaques to inform residents that they can request accessory residential parking spaces.
- Establish that residential portions of a building must be secure from the parking facility.
- Clarify the size and location of the vehicle identification tags to facilitate enforcement by the Department of Buildings.
For more information about the proposal, contact the Transportation Division of the Department of City Planning at 212-442-4630.
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