Parallel-Universe Parking

parked cars.jpgThere’s a neat Web 2.0 experiment just now underway that Southern Californians should follow and participate in. CarHarbor is a blog with a mission: To create a network in which people utilize the large-scale cooperative capability of the Internet to find individual solutions to “the everyday frustrations we all face when it comes to parking our cars.”

A fascinating troika of advisors oversees CarHarbor: Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist; Jim Lazarus, currently public affairs director for the SF Chamber, and a longtime SF City Hall figure who is close to Mayor Newsom; and Scott Rafer, a pioneering web entrepreneur who was behind Feedster and is now chairman of Wireless Ink.

Here’s an example of the kind of thinking CarHarbor wants to promote:

Virtually all schools, especially those located in urban areas, have parking problems. I’m learning a lot by talking to San Francisco principals and headmasters. Parents and other visitors get frustrated that they can never find a spot anywhere near the school, causing them to be late for important events and meetings. Traffic congestion is always an issue during drop-off and pick-up periods. Teachers and other staff often find it difficult to find a spot for the day, or have to move their cars periodically throughout the day. It’s energizing to contemplate how our tools, now under development, can resolve these issues.

There are also opportunities to take space controlled by a school and make it available to third parties for parking during off-hours or over the summer. Some schools will inevitably find themselves strategically positioned in the path of valuable parking revenue. We want to show them the way.

At this pre-launch stage, CarHarbor takes the form of a blog — demonstrating that blogging is more than just a soapbox. They don’t pretend to have all the ideas. They want yours. I don’t get the sense CarHarbor is limited to San Franciscans, although that’s where it’s based.

Just think: One day, the Metropolitan Transportation Agency will be doing this sort of thing. Wouldn’t it be cool if they weren’t the last to know?

(Hat tip to Tech Crunch for finding this.)

3 thoughts on “Parallel-Universe Parking

  1. I wonder if the vast open space around many of our schools in Los Angeles could be better utilized by carefully integrating some housing into the school grounds? I realize that dropping kids off at school and picking them up causes congestion, but isn’t part of the problem that people don’t live within walking distance of their local educational institutions?

  2. Thank you Craig. To be noticed by you is an incredible honor.

    Andrew: It would be dicey to put housing onto the school grounds. The ability of the residents to exercise their constitutional rights to privacy might conflict with an appropriate school atmosphere. However, it is my understanding that the city is trying to do a better job of integrating the dozens of new schools our bond money is paying for into the flow of surrounding communities.

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