Is Car-Share a Friend or Foe to Environmental Concerns?

The Sierra Club has opposed an ordinance passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors that allows developers to add spaces above parking limits if they're dedicated to car-share vehicles. Does the plan violate the city's Transit First policy?

Isabel Angell reports on the recent Bay Area kerfuffle that pits environmentalists against car-share advocates. Proposed by Supervisor Scott Wiener, the plan that recently passed the board allows residential developers to "add more parking spots to their new apartment buildings–- if those spots are dedicated for car-share programs." 

While the ordinance passed unanimously, the outspoken opposition from the Sierra Club surprised some. "In a letter, Sierra Club secretary Sue Vaughan said the plan 'will add to overall congestion and negatively impact the flow of transit and air quality.'” The ordinance does seem to run counter to the city's aim of limiting the amount of parking allowed in new buildings.

"Instead of making new parking spots for car-share programs, The Sierra Club suggested converting existing street parking spots," adds Angell. "But Supervisor Wiener’s office countered by offering studies that show each new car share vehicle replaces between eight and ten private cars. In fact, a UC Berkeley study found that after signing up with a car-sharing program, almost half of households with a car got rid of their vehicle."

"The San Francisco Supervisors hope that developers will take advantage of these new car-share spots," she concludes. "So do the city’s car-share members, who are seeing their usual spots at gas stations and open-air lots disappear as they get converted into buildings and other uses."


Full Story: Car Share Parking Attracts an Unlikely Foe in San Francisco

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Jonathan Nettler's picture
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Sierra Club response

In an email to Planetizen, Sierra Club secretary Sue Vaughan clarified her group's position:

The Sierra Club does not oppose car share. The SC opposes more parking. There is no reason that developers cannot use their allowable parking to accommodate car share, but they do not want to. They want to push the envelope and get more parking, which will drive up the cost of the housing they are constructing. It's all about the bottom line.

But more parking means aggravated congestion, degradation of air quality, and exacerbation of climate change.

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