City Wants to Help Zipcar Expand Service in San Jose

To help car-sharing take off in San Jose, the city plans to donate free parking to Zipcar for a year-and-a-half.

The proposal up for review at the City Council Tuesday would give the ride-sharing company 40 designated public parking spots for the duration of the 18-month pilot program. Zipcar would have to provide one private parking spot for every two the city offers.

Zipcar launched its fleet in San Jose last year, growing it from 12 to 30 vehicles. Its membership has more than doubled—from 349 to 874. And its geographic service area has expanded. But not enough people are using the cars.

“The proportion of time Zipcar’s vehicles are reserved by members in a 24-hour day is considered ‘soft,’” a city memo reads.

The utilization rate, an indicator of the success for care-share programs, peaked around 36 percent but ended last year at 29 percent. A healthy rate would be 45 percent, the company says. The city aims to help the company bump up that usage rate by donating free parking spots.

“During this start-up phase, the pilot program serves as a buffer to Zipcar, enabling it to reach a point where its services will be sustainable when the pilot ends,” the memo states.

Though Zipcar is the only company that met the deadline to participate in the pilot program, three others operate in San Jose and a couple others have express an interest in bringing their service to town. Hertz OnDemand has 15 cars available for short-term rental at seven locations around the city. And through Relay Rides and Getaround, people offer their personal vehicles for ride-sharing at their own set rates.

More from the San Jose City Council agenda for February 25, 2014:

Councilman Sam Liccardo wants to offer free high-speed WiFi to six mostly vacant buildings in downtown to give businesses greater incentive to move in.

• The city’s being forced to short-sell a slew of properties as part of the dissolution of its redevelopment agency. A total of 31 properties are slated for sale, including several parking lots and a downtown theater.

WHAT: City Council meets
WHEN: 1:30pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.


  1. Why do we always pay for services that aren’t self-sustaining?  We had an 18 month trial, and now we need to pay for a 2 year extension?  Dollars to donuts we’ll be asked for yet another extension in 2 years too.

  2. The Zip Car deal should never have been permitted to go forward. This is the same type of “Urban crap” we have seen with the bicycle lanes and the bicycle rentals sprouting up all over the Downtown, Japan Town, etc. There are three (3) “Zip Car” parking spaces on North 5th Street across from city hall. They are clearly marked and who ever parks there except zip cars will be towed.

    I have asked several San Jose Police Officers as to a disabled person, with a current disabled placard or license plates were to park in zip car designated parking spaces.  All of the Police Officers said there is nothing in the vehicle code to prohibit the disabled person from parking in a zip car designated space. I do not know of any disabled parking spaces around city hall.

    It is of interest to note, the three (3) Zip Car parking spaces on North 5th Street across from city hall are adjacent to an assemblage of eight (8) properties bought by the Redevelopment Agency and for a little over $11 Million and now have to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. I have to review the Long Range Property Management Plan to see what the highest stated bid for I have forgotten. I believe the taxpayers are going to lose a little north of $7 Million on these properties alone.

    Get used to “Urban crap” being hoisted upon San José dwellers by the same Council members who are candidates for Mayor. This philosophy is showing up with Rocketship schools, feeble attempts at a nexus fee to squeeze money out of real estate deals to fund affordable housing, near destruction of the San José Police and Fire Departments, valuable city employees retiring in droves or leaving for other agencies more bicycle lanes and other deals to turn Downtown San José into a variation of Hong Kong.

    There is only one candidate for Mayor that rejects “Urban crap” the selling off public property for pennies on the dollar, the destruction of the city’s workforce and the pimps who are candidates for Mayor who have caused and vehemently support the aforementioned.

    David S. Wall

    • Well stated David. This city is being flushed down the toilet and 30% who bother to vote do not give a damn. No one seems to research the issues. The rest are brain dead or on Chuckies cool aid.

      So who do we blame?  I have worked for 29 years to make this city better but it seems the council except for 2 care less, of course all are on a great retirement system not given to regular workers,they ( PEERs.)

      I could go on and on but few in SJ care or know.

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