Noe Valley Voice September 2005

Noe Valley Gets a Second CarShare Vehicle--a Toyota Wagon

By Liz Highleyman

Starting this month, Noe Valley residents have an additional transportation option in the heart of the neighborhood.

City CarShare, the Bay Area's non-profit car-sharing service, now has a new Toyota Scion xB making its home at the Noe Valley Ministry parking lot on 24th Street between Vicksburg and Sanchez.

The boxy maroon vehicle--a cross between a large station wagon and a minivan--offers a roomier alternative to the Honda Civic hybrid parked at the Walgreen's lot on Castro Street between 24th and Jersey.

"We've had a lot of requests," City CarShare's Colleen Crowley told the Noe Valley Voice. "We have a lot of members in Noe Valley who have been wanting for quite some time to have more cars."

Billing itself as "a cheaper, greener way to drive," City CarShare got its start in March 2001, spurred by a coalition of transportation activists, environmentalists, and city planners hoping to reduce automobile dependence and cut down on traffic and parking congestion. The program, which rents by the hour or by the day, allows members to pick up vehicles when they need them, and pay based on how much they drive. It's ideal for those who drive only occasionally, for example to haul a load of groceries home from Costco or take a day-trip down the coast.

Members pay a one-time refundable deposit of $300 ($500 for businesses), an application fee of $30, and a flat $10 monthly administrative charge. It costs $4 per hour ($2 between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m.) plus 44 cents per mile to use a vehicle. The price includes gas, insurance, cleaning, maintenance, and a guaranteed parking spot at the end of the day--but drivers are responsible for their own parking tickets.

Since its inception, CarShare has expanded from a handful of lime-green Volkswagon Beetles at about a dozen sites to a fleet that now includes more than 90 compacts, wagons, pickup trucks, and hybrids at over 45 Bay Area "pods." Crowley says the program currently serves about 4,000 members in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland.

Local Groups Paved the Way

The new Noe Valley location is the result of a joint effort by the Noe Valley Ministry, District 8 Supervisor Bevan Dufty, and the Noe Valley Merchants and Professionals Association (of which City CarShare is a member).

"We believe in the environmental and ecological advantages of fewer cars," said Ministry pastor Rev. Keenan Kelsey, who encouraged American Parking Management, which operates the church's lot, to accommodate CarShare. "Our mission is to create community, and community is based on a concept of sharing resources, particularly in an urban environment."

Three years ago, local merchants opposed CarShare's proposal to house two cars at the municipal lot between Radio Shack and Le Zinc, then the only parking lot along the 24th Street commercial strip. But with the opening of the Ministry's new lot, business owners now hope the program can help relieve the neighborhood's parking shortage.

"Having a City CarShare vehicle available for area residents will help alleviate auto congestion and demand for parking spaces, making 24th Street that much more accessible and attractive for shoppers and diners visiting Noe Valley," said Carol Yenne, president of the Merchants Association.

Farmers' Market Has Keys

To accommodate the Noe Valley Farmers' Market, which occupies the lot on Saturday mornings, market volunteers have taken on the task of moving and returning the new wagon if it's not in use.

"We're delighted to support them," said Farmers' Market board member John Friedman. "City CarShare offers a convenient, low-cost way to drive that's better for the environment."

For those living on Noe Valley's eastern edge, CarShare just placed another new Scion in the parking lot across from the BART station at 24th and Mission. Other nearby "pods" are located at 18th and Collingwood, the Glen Park BART Station, and 20th and Valencia. The New Mission Bartlett Garage, on 22nd between Valencia and Bartlett, houses five vehicles including a pickup truck.

Crowley says CarShare is eager to put more vehicles in the neighborhood if suitable spaces can be found. "We would like to do more in Noe Valley," she says. "Maybe someone has a lot behind their shop we could use."

For more information about City CarShare or to become a member, visit or call 415-995-8588. To suggest potential new locations, contact or call 415-995-8588, ext. 306.