Having given up both auto and parking permit in reliance on the City of Hoboken’s two-year car-sharing contract, I’m troubled that City Council twice has failed to support the Corner Cars program by ordinance.
Critics say that the city is privatizing a public resource: giving publicly owned street parking spaces to a private, for-profit entity, i.e., Hertz. Sounds bad, but the city is smarter than that.
In economic terms, the city is converting a scarce public resource (street parking), which many residents monopolize by occupying “their space” until the street sweeper dislodges them, into a public-private resource, i.e., shared automobiles. Both partners invest in the joint venture. The city provides 42 parking spaces and promotional assistance. In return, Hertz expends funds for late-model, low-polluting autos; leases parking spaces from the city; cleans those spaces; insures drivers; indemnifies the city; posts performance and maintenance bonds; promotes the program; administers registration and reservations, and does all of this while adhering to a cap on the hourly rates it charges.
Result: Residents who don’t need or want to acquire, maintain and insure their own vehicle relinquish them. Autos become a utility (“pay only for what you use”), not a possession that requires continual upkeep. Participation in Corner Cars frees street parking for residents who need their vehicles daily. Prospective residents have a reason to move to Hoboken without bringing suburban-lifestyle vehicles with them. In short, car sharing is one way of using private enterprise to make a public resource more available to the public, not less available.
If government alone had been able to solve the parking problem, the city would have done so. It didn’t. It’s time for the new Council majority to give our well-conceived public-private Corner Cars partnership a reliable, legally sound, non-political basis on which to demonstrate success.