Chelsea Schreiber

Car2Go gets green light in Hermosa Beach

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Car2Go hopes to come to El Segundo and the rest of the South Bay. Photo courtesy Car2Go

Car2Go hopes to come to El Segundo and the rest of the South Bay. Photo courtesy Car2Go

Car2Go, the South Bay’s first regional car share program was approved by the Hermosa Beach City Council making Hermosa Beach the first of the three beach cities to approve the proposed nine-city eco-friendly car sharing model.

The program, which would span a 40-mile geographic area, distributes vehicles throughout the designated region and allows members of the program to rent them for as long or as little as they want. When they are finished, members leave the car at their last destination.

Car2Go Businesses Development Manager Walter Rosenkranz presented the 350-car, rent-by-minute car program to the council in mid January. Council members were hesitant to approve it because of the community’s fervency towards the all-to-few parking spaces in downtown Hermosa Beach.

According to Rosenkranz, the program begins with a one-time fee of $35 and is made to be as user friendly as possible. The user receives a key card and pin number to open the vehicles and is subsequently charged $.38 a minute for usage. The cars are located throughout the community and picked up on the spot, where the last user left it.

The South Bay Cities Council of Governments (SBCCOG) is behind the efforts of bringing the car-sharing program to the South Bay. They hope the program would diminish the need for second or third cars per household and promote local use vehicles as a means of reducing air pollution and increasing the mobility of the local workforce.

“You could pick up a car in El Segundo, drive to Redondo Beach or Torrance, end the rental and walk away and not have to worry about bringing it back to where you picked it up,” Rosenkranz said to the El Segundo City Council in mid-November. “…It’s another mobility option for people who may not have a car, or normally ride a bike or use other forms of transit. If they need to get to work when they don’t have a ride, we can provide that service.”

The May 14 meeting’s approval was a bold move for the council. Other South Bay cities are still debating the implementation of the program and many are skeptical. Manhattan Beach council members have expressed concern about the program for a variety of reasons including loss of parking revenue and concern about the vehicles being parked for an extended period of time in high-traffic spots. To be successful Rosenkranz said that all nine cities need to approve the program so members can have clear boundaries about where to drive and park. Torrance, Hawthorne and Lawndale continue to debate the legitimacy of the idea while the Redondo Beach City Council is on the verge of approval. Lomita, El Segundo and Gardenia have already given the program the green light.

“For the South Bay it would be an incredible economic opportunity,” The SBCCOG Executive Director Jacki Bacharach said. “There’s no other place in the region that would have this service available. The opportunities for people that are looking for jobs, getting to work, or just people having more spendable income because they don’t have that second or third car in the garage. The greatest part is it doesn’t require a dime from the public.”

Hermosa Beach negotiated $38,600 annually from Car2Go to make up for lost parking revenue with a “me too” stipulation in case other cities negotiate a better deal. The approval included three-year permits for an estimated 325 cars and allows Car2Go vehicles to park in metered spaces without payment or regard for time restrictions in designated areas of the city. The designated spaces include the top level of the Municipal Parking Structure and parking lot A as well as other public right-of-way parking spots. However, the contract stipulates that they must observe the time restrictions on spots with time limits of less than one hour as well as carpool and street sweeping restrictions.

“I’m curious as to whether this works,” council member Howard Fishman said. “I hope it works, but it will be interesting to see what the usage will be… and if it is something that’s really working in the South Bay.” ER

 

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